December 7, 2018
Blog news: I might be moving to WordPress in the new year, given some of the strange news about the Tumblr platform, which is too complicated and frustrating to get into on my weekly-reads blog. Just a heads up that some changes may be coming down the pike.
This has been a week of unusually high anxiety for me, but I’m working my health and self-care plans as best I can. I haven’t had the brain space for anything really deep or intense, but I hope you enjoy this lighter, story-based fare this week!
How a 6-Year-Old Survived Being Lost in the Woods, Outside. “Some kids will sit down and stay in one place,” says Koester. “If you are in the open woods and there is no landmark to follow, then the majority of six-year-old kids are going to circle.” So it wasn’t surprising that the search party concentrated its efforts around Deerings Meadow, where Cody was last seen. But lost people also latch on to linear features, like a road, Koester says.” Spooky!
Ask Polly: I’m Broke and Mostly Friendless and I’ve Wasted My Whole Life. This is such a generous, beautiful essay about shame and art and how to start again. I’ll let her own words speak for themselves:
“Shame is the opposite of art. When you live inside of your shame, everything you see is inadequate and embarrassing. A lifetime of traveling and having adventures and not being tethered to long-term commitments looks empty and pathetic and foolish, through the lens of shame. You haven’t found a partner. Your face is aging. Your body will only grow weaker. Your mind is less elastic. Your time is running out. Shame turns every emotion into the manifestation of some personality flaw, every casual choice into a giant mistake, every small blunder into a moral failure. Shame means that you’re damned and you’ve accomplished nothing and it’s all downhill from here.
You need to discard some of this shame you’re carrying around all the time. But even if you can’t cast off your shame that quickly, through the lens of art, shame becomes valuable. When you’re curious about your shame instead of afraid of it, you can see the true texture of the day and the richness of the moment, with all of its flaws. You can run your hands along your own self-defeating edges until you get a splinter, and you can pull the splinter out and stare at it and consider it. When you face your shame with an open heart, you’re on a path to art, on a path to finding joy and misery and fear and hope in the folds of your day. Even as your job is slow and dull and pointless, even as your afternoons alone feel treacherous and daunting, you can train your eyes on the low-hanging clouds until a tiny bit of sunlight filters through. You are alive and you will probably be alive for many decades to come. The numbers on your credit-card statements can feel harrowing, but you can take that feeling and keep it company instead of letting it eat you alive. You can walk to the corner store to buy a newspaper and pull out the weekend calendar section and circle something, and make a commitment to do that one thing. You can build a new kind of existence, one that feels small and flawed and honest, but each day you accumulate a kind of treasure that doesn’t disappear. Because instead of running away from the truth, you welcome it in. You don’t treat what you have as pointless. You work with what you have.”
How to Clear a Path Through 60 Feet of Snow, Japanese Style, Atlas Obscura. This is so fun to look at. I can’t even fathom this amount of snow, and yet it’s a yearly thing for them. I would watch a movie about Snow Canyon and the people who live (and plow) there.
Pushcart-Nominated Poet Accused of Plagiarizing Multiple Peers, Jezebel. There seems to be a lot of plagiarism happening in the exploding landscape of “social media poetry.” It makes sense in a way, even though it’s absolutely not ethical. This example is basically an object lesson to the extremely damaging consequences of plagiarism via paraphrase. Things shared on social media are often fractured from their context or source – we see that all the time with the frustrating sourcing on Pinterest (although this seems to have improved somewhat as the years go by). That’s why I tell my students: what you say matters, but also how you say it (ethically, responsibly)! I feel for the poets involved in stories like this, especially those whose work has been stolen.
We thought the Incas couldn’t write. These knots change everything, New Scientist. This is so cool! I would love to see a fantasy story that adapts this language system for magic purposes. If I had world enough and time, this is the kind of mystery I would love to know everything about.