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:

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