December 20, 2019

Today’s my last workday before the break! I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure I’m gonna take the next 2 Fridays off from the ole 5. Not that I won’t be reading (I have a stupid amount of library books checked out right now), but because I want to be quiet for a little bit. Catch my breath, eat a cookie, play Legos. All the good stuff. Have a wonderful holiday, and see you next DECADE.

(PS – Happy birthday to my dear dad!)

  1. Every December, Japan is Awash in Elegant Christmas Cakes, Gastro Obscura. “A mash-up of American and French pastry, the Japanese Christmas cake is a secular symbol of celebration that arose after decades of media promotion of Christmas as a stylish, romantic event.” PRETTY CAKES also this quote is a little piece of interesting history: “As the country finally left behind the impoverished postwar period and became more prosperous, Japanese people rapidly adopted the refrigerator along with the black-and-white television and the washing machine, dubbing them the “Three Sacred Treasures.”
  2. What to Do When a Perfectly Lovely Friend is Kind of the Worst Online, Vice. “Social media is a weird mix of job fair, horny house party, high school reunion, office happy hour, group chat, and reality TV competition, and the currency and local language changes depending on the app or specific circle you’re in in a given moment.” So many problems with friends being annoying on social media are elegantly solved by the Mute/Unfollow button. This piece has good advice!
  3. Grab Your Wallet, Here Are the Most Expensive Books Ever Sold, Bookriot. Not much to say about this one, but I thought it was Neat!
  4. The Witches are Coming, Lindy West. Love Lindy West. This book was a good read, clear-eyed, darkly funny, but also hopeful. “Think of the Parkland mass shooting survivors, who, in the thick of unimaginable trauma, rejected the typical thoughts, prayers, and shrugs from their government — the blatant lie that there simply is no way to keep children from being slaughtered at school — and helped pass sixty-seven new gun laws in 2018. Those kids were born after 9/11 into a fractured place. They didn’t get any quiet years, I guess, when, in many communities (not all, of course) the end of the world felt abstract and far away. Young people are here and strong and smart and fierce, and they do not intend to die. They are artists and scientists and leaders, and we just have to show up and fight for them, and with them, every day until we die. It is not their job to save us — we are the parents — but may they inspire us to help them save themselves. I feel afraid in this moment, but I do not feel hopeless.”
  5. 10 Biggest Sports Stories of the 2010s, NY Mag. “Sports can make you feel terrible sometimes. But in an age where sometimes it feels like everything makes you feel terrible … sports can also still make you feel good, often right when you most need them to. And that’s not nothing.” There are a lot of decade-in-review pieces going around right now; I liked this one.

December 13, 2019

Resuming therapy and in a season of self-curiosity, I’ve been drawn to essays about healing, gratitude, and recovery. I hope you enjoy this week’s selection!

  1. “Yelp Reviews of Fast Food,” Electric Literature. The McDonalds one is my favorite of these cute, slightly animated comics by Mary Shyne.
  2. To the Teeth #4, Entropy. “While I healed, I remembered that habits—this includes the mind—take at least three weeks to stick, and teenagers need five positive interactions for every other one. So I pretended I was my own teenager. I held her tight, kept her in the light, and I told her she could do this, which often sounded more like trust yourself. Trust what you’re doing. If you almost lost it, it means you didn’t. If you write it down, it means it is in the past. It means you can stand in the burning house and not be the burning house. I wanted to write this column because Mariame Kaba says that if we can pass down trauma, we can pass down healing.”
  3. The Difficult Art of Giving Space in Love: Rilke on Freedom, Togetherness, and the Secret to a Good Marriage, Brain Pickings. “Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky!” I have to work to understand the passages shared in this Brain Pickings, but I found it rewarding to dig through. Here’s another: “For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.”
  4. Little Weirds, Jenny Slate. I actually read this a few weeks ago and just haven’t had the time to share it. But images from it keep bubbling back up in my day to day, so I know it touched me. It’s a book of strange essays and what I’ll call “extended tweets” about identity, whimsy, and recovery. I copied many passages from this book into my journal, and here’s a sample: “I am the croissant that felt its own heat and curves and wished to become a woman, and I am that woman from the wish. Let me be your morning treat with your coffee. Disregard the fear that I am too rich to be an ordinary meal. Allow my antique decadence into your morning into your mouth. Pair me with jam. Treasure me for my layers and layers of fragility and richness. Name me after a shape that the moon makes. Have me in a hotel while you are on vacation. Look at me and say, “Oh, I really shouldn’t,” just because you want to have me so very much.” That’s the whimsy. Here’s a sample from the recovery: “It occurs to me as I fight so hard with myself that these cruel and persistent voices are the echoes of trauma from the times when people treated me like I am now treating myself. And that, perhaps, it is possible to close an inner door and shut out voices that are not mine. In the last light of a long day, I sit on a chair on my porch and watch the sky drain colors down and out and I realize I want to hear my voice and only mine. Not the voice of my voice within a cacophony of old pains. Just mine, now.”
  5. Column of Light, Gay Mag. “I wonder if gratitude would be a more compelling emotion if we allowed ourselves to feel it to its fullest — in our wrists, in our fingertips. If we learned to recognize its presence, greeting it as it arrives. Sometimes I’m walking down the street in Brooklyn and I’m overcome by a feeling of thankfulness — of being alive, of being alive in this very moment — so strong I have to put both hands over my chest. Gratitude wrings out my body like a towel. It breaks open my heart like a piece of balsa wood clenched in two fists. And I let it. I allow it to feel like a bolt of lightning, or better yet: that there has appeared a column of light, and I can step inside.” Lovely.

December 06, 2019


Did my best to confirm this quote. Do I know if it’s real or a Pinterest invention? No. Do I love it anyway? Yes.

Missed you all last week, I just plum forgot it was Friday! It’s nice to forget it’s Friday sometimes. These offerings touch on different kinds of sorrow but also the power of human connection and love. I think that combination is appropriate for the complexity of this season. Love you all:

  1. “Suggested Donation,” Heather Christle. I’m not sure if I shared this strange little poem with you all yet or not. But I like the conversational language. I like this bit about deer: “If they kept diaries / the first entry would / read: Was born / Was licked / Tried walking / Then they’d walk / away and no second / entry would ever exist.” Nice.
  2. How to Go Home for the Holidays When Your Family is a Bit Much, Vice. My favorite internet writer, Jennifer Peepas of Captain Awkward, had a piece published in Vice about going home for the holidays when navigating family relationships can be difficult. She quotes a therapist, Rae McDaniel, who has (like all therapists I’ve known) some very good soundbites, like: “You’re not going to be able to buy groceries at the hardware store, by which I mean, some people just are not going to be able to meet your needs.” But, McDaniel tells their clients, arguing with someone isn’t the only way to stand up for yourself. “Quietly changing the subject can be authentic; leaving the room and taking a walk can be authentic.” Good advice here!
  3. Design Over People? New Fine Arts Library Critiqued for See-Through, Grated Floors, Cornell Sun. “Every space that we use is designed by someone,” Nomura said. “[These concerns are] starting a really interesting conversation: Who is that someone? What’s their intention? Who are they really designing for?” Another library designed by someone who doesn’t seem to go in public or know any other people. See-through, grated metal floors? Sounds like my nightmare. The metal floors don’t dampen any sound either, so it’s also loud? And what if you spilled your coffee ON SOMEONE’S HEAD.
  4. Sarah Miller on How to Deal with Despair in an Age Full of It, Insider. In this piece, Miller doesn’t diminish the heaviness of what causes despair in these times, but offers a few ways to avoid wallowing in the heaviness. They’re maybe commonsense but still worth remembering, like doing something for someone else, or getting exercise. Also, I relate to the way she describes walking her dog, here: “I like to look at its tiny fat body pushing its way through space. I got another dog just because watching two animals at once made me feel even slightly happier, something about the symmetry, who knows, who cares, hello, endorphins, welcome, I am sure you will not have trouble finding a seat.” I love to see two dogs! And I know a lot of friends have been staying tuned in to the news as crisis after crisis unfolds, and for you all I think this piece would be helpful. It ends with: “I have some curiosity about what is going to happen next, and I might even feel like I have some power over the future. It doesn’t solve everything, but it allows me to get to the next day, when, with any luck, and maybe even some effort on my part, this sense of curiosity and power can connect with the curiosity and power in other people.”
  5. “I Come Home Wanting to Touch Everyone,” Stephen Dunn. As a lover of physical touch, this poem made me happy. My favorite bits are: “tonight the body-hungers have sent out / their long-range signals / or love itself has risen / from its squalor of neglect.” and especially: “everything, everyone is intelligible / in the language of touch.”

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