Category Archives: Uncategorized

Here You Go

I heard this in the car and somehow it was just what I needed, and maybe you need it too:

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Did we know this was still a thing? I DID NOT KNOW THIS WAS STILL A THING!

I am a huge OLD who assumes everything good from my childhood, like making homemade IEDs in the woods out of coke bottles and firecrackers, is long gone, so when I find some small part of it preserved nothing could be more delightful.

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Not Everything Sucks

Born in 1920, she’s still dancing: 

Rogers was twisting for her loved ones and neighbors who came out to celebrate her birthday Thursday.

Born June 18, 1920 in Biloxi, Mississippi, Rogers has called her ranch house on the 6800 block of South Champlain Avenue home since the 1970s.

A surprise parade and block party at the house was organized by members of Rogers’ Washington Park church, the Greater Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church, and the Andrew Holmes Foundation, whose “Club 100” throws grand celebrations for Chicagoans’ 99th and 100th birthdays.

Dozens of attendees made the celebration “out of this world,” said Preston Allen, whose wife Lizzie was Rogers’ longtime co-worker.

He didn’t expect the gathering to be as large as it was, but said it made sense considering how long Rogers has been alive and her care for those in her circle.

“This is just Mama; this is our play-mother,” Allen said.

Click through for the photos and the video especially.

A.

Fights That Shouldn’t Have to Be Fights

Aimee Stephens, heroine:

Stephens’ lawyers argued her firing was a clear example of discrimination because of her sex, and the 6th Circuit agreed.

“The unrefuted facts show that the Funeral Home fired Stephens because she refused to abide by her employer’s stereotypical conception of her sex,” the court wrote in a 49-page decision.

“Discrimination against employees, either because of their failure to conform to sex stereotypes or their transgender and transitioning status, is illegal under Title VII,” the court said. “It is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex.”

Stephens told Vox last year she hoped her lawsuit would encourage others to “always strive to be who you are” regardless of the case’s outcome.

“Deep down you know who you are and don’t let anyone else tell you any different,” she said. “Hold your head high and keep marching forward. It will get better.”

 

I hate that these things have to be fights. I hate that people who’ve already gone through so much stress and trauma couldn’t even feel safe in a job, a job that had nothing to do with their gender identity or sexuality. Life is hard enough, everything is an unending automated phone tree of bullshit, why does it give people pleasure to fuck around with the lives of those who are already at risk?

A.

 

Not Everything Sucks

Nina Simone existed, and her music still does: 

Looking at Nina Simone’s statue in downtown Tryon, I recite the end of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem, “Archaic Torso of Apollo,” which reads, “for here there is no place / that does not see you. You must change your life.” Rilke wrote the poem while staring, entranced, at a headless statue from Auguste Rodin that dazzled him to the point of imperative transformation. Now, almost exactly one hundred years later, I am standing in front of the eight-foot bronze statue of Nina Simone.

I find most of the music I really love through books or stories about it online; I found Nina Simone through Joyce Maynard’s book Where Love Goes. As with everything Maynard writes, the book isn’t great but parts of it are. It was a review copy sent to the paper where I worked; I ripped out the pages I liked and kept them. They’re in a box somewhere. Maynard’s main character loves Nina Simone, and since I loved the character, I went looking for what she loved.

(I found Leonard Cohen through fanfiction, read him as a poet before I heard him sing.)

The first time I heard Sinnerman I listened to it on repeat for four days. Then I watched the documentary about her life, I watched her interviews, I watched every performance I could find. We find the words we need when we need them and oh, we are going to the devil and he is waiting.

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A Product of Their Times

Apropos of being reminded of the existence of an acquaintance I’d memory-holed but apparently forgotten to unfriend, nothing makes me crazier than the idea that someone was just A PRODUCT OF THEIR TIME. Oh, he’s an old man, let him be racist and sexist and garbage and shitty to you and in front of you, he’s a product of his time.

You know who else was a product of their time?

Sophie Scholl.

Sojourner Truth.

Fred Hampton.

Every single goddamn Freedom Rider.

Ida B. Wells was a product of her time.

Nellie Bly, too.

Every last one of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Dick Winters was a product of his time.

Crispus Attucks was a product of his time.

My friend Bob is 100 years old. The last time I saw him and we talked about current events, he stood up and said, “I was antifa before Hitler came to power.” Also, a product of his time.

The problem with the story that we are helpless in the face of the events that shape us is that there have always been people who can see through that crap and who have said that’s enough. That’s why we get better, Jesus, because people decide they’ve had it and want change.

When I was researching one of my books (more on that later today) I came across people who protested for open housing and what we now call marriage equality — in 1910. There have always been people who realize there’s only one rule and it’s if you have power you can use it to crush or you can use it to care for.

We just don’t usually idolize those people until they’re dead. Until WE need them, to make ourselves feel better or justify our complacency because they already won the fight we’re still in the middle of.

Everyone is a product of their time. That’s not a validation of us, it’s an indictment of the times, and it’s never, ever, ever an excuse to hurt anyone else, in word or deed. Because if people could stand up for one another when it was necessary, not just when there was a critical mass of people to protect them, then what is our excuse?

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Not Everything Sucks

Can’t stop the celebration signal: 

A huge part of Ramadan is about the community, Ismail said. Not just getting together with family and friends for iftar meals to break fast at the end of the day, but eating with strangers and gathering with large groups to celebrate in the mosque. He wanted to try to emulate that in a game that has been so appealing to people in quarantine precisely because of the community aspect.

He put out a call on Twitter, offering to host people to celebrate Ramadan on his island, and very quickly got a lot of responses from friends, internet acquaintances, and complete strangers. There was so much interest that he had to create a sign-up tool to ensure everyone could be distributed to different meals throughout the month (Animal Crossing only allows eight people to visit an island at one time).

Ismail decided to start hosting iftars and suhoors (the early morning meal before the sunrises) on Animal Crossing. He said so far he’s had 70 to 80 people visit his island for Ramadan, which began on April 23.

Eid Mubarak, everybody!

A.

ps. I do not have Animal Crossing, you cannot sell me any apples or whatever, but you do you.

Not Everything Sucks

The bees on the roof of the library are okay:

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Distance

Here are some numbers.

My mother had me when she was 21 years old.

I had my daughter when I was 38.

For most of their lives, my mother lived six blocks away from her mother, who was 35 years old when my mother was born.

Since I turned 17, I have never lived closer than 70 miles from my mom.

This past fall I flew 800 miles to be at the wedding of a girl I love like my own daughter.

I left my own daughter behind, in the care of my mother. For four days we were those same 800 miles apart.

There is twice as much space time between me and my daughter, as there was time space between my mother and me. Two generations, not one.

It was 40 feet from my daughter’s room to mine, in the condo that we lived in when she was born. From the day we brought her home from the hospital she refused to co-sleep, wouldn’t rest unless she could put that space between us. Forty feet, when she’d rolled and twisted underneath my heart, inside my body, caged by my ribs.

I looked at her in those early days and felt — love, pride, awe, fear, but not knowing. Not known. I had imagined a child would be many things. Not on my list, that she (her pulse inside mine, however briefly, an echo and an answer) would be a stranger.

A stranger to me, and I to her, and so we still are.

Strangers who like one another. Strangers who enjoy spending time together. But strangers, always. We love who we think the other is. We love the assumptions because we have to love something and we can’t know the truth.

I was reading last week about encouraging older children — she is so much older, in a week, than she was in a month last year — to write about this time, to draw about it, because they’ll remember. I say to myself, ten times a day, when we talk about someone we know being sick or something we can’t do anymore: She needs you to be calm.

She needs you to tell her how to feel about this, that’s how we learn. Human psychology, all of it, is based on projection. We do lessons at the dining room table. We do crafts, go on nature walks, I’ve been dealing with health problems for decades and sometimes I wish she had a mother who didn’t need to sit on the bathroom floor for 20 minutes in the morning and breathe until she can manage getting some toast and coffee and feeding the cats.

My mother tells me, “She doesn’t even see that.” But I don’t know what she sees. I don’t know if she’ll need me to tell her about the spring we stayed inside, about the months she didn’t see her friends. I hate that she has lost half of her kindergarten year. I barely remember kindergarten. It’s the hardest thing to reckon with: You don’t get to choose what your children remember, or how they remember it.

It’s the hardest thing to reckon with, as a mother, as a daughter: Our children don’t belong to us. We belong to them. We only think of our ownership because we are large and they are small. We are old, and they are young. We think once claimed is claimed forever, that love imparts some unspoken wisdom, that we know. A mother knows. A mother is supposed to know.

A mother doesn’t know. A mother has no idea.

At her wedding, the girl I love like my own daughter caught my hands up in hers and I tried to tell her, stumbling a bit after two glasses of wine, how important she was to me. I work with a lot of kids; none of them invited me to their weddings, until her. When she was thousands of miles away in war zones working I would check on Facebook, make sure she’d been active in the past day. The past hour. She flew to Chicago for my daughter’s first birthday.

No matter how much time passes between us talking, she could call, in the middle of the night, say I need a shovel and an alibi. I’d go.

It’s not a phrase that had been invented, in the 21 years between my mother and me: Ride or die.

Of course you’d die for your child. That’s easy. It’s chemical, it’s instinct, it’s survival, it has to be. You love them before you know them, so that you keep them alive. Can you still love them, once everything that has ever happened to someone has happened to the both of you? Once you’ve happened to each other like a speeding train happens to a car stalled at the crossing, like a tornado happens to a town?

Are you ride or die, then?

What does it mean to ride? Does ride mean feed you, keep you safe, put you in a carseat and cut your grapes in half? That’s easy enough, for all our mommy-martyrdom. Is that all it means? Does it mean piano lessons? Does it mean until you’re 50? Are you ever done? There are people who are, who would be. Streets the world over are homes for children whose parents were done with them. The reverse, to be fair, as well.

I shudder at the very idea of I would do anything, forever: You are giving the gods a middle finger. Your future is out there waiting and it hears you. I shout it out just the same. Anything isn’t a hangnail, isn’t just showing up for a class play. Sometimes it’s involuntary commitment to a mental institution.

I don’t question love. What’s the use? But I question time space. I question years and miles. Not if they exist, but what they mean. What they might mean to me and mine. What I get to call mine: the girl I love like a daughter is not my daughter, feelings don’t give you rights, and all the love I bear my child, who knew my voice before she had a name, doesn’t obligate her to anything. I will keep saying this until I believe it the way I believe gravity: She does not owe me.

We are commanded by every deity we have ever invented to love the stranger. We think it means the scraggly homeless man who screams obscenities behind the trash cans in the alley, the twitching pale hitchhiker who needs a ride in the rain. I’ve begun to think it’s something else: Everyone is a stranger. The faces across the breakfast table, every single morning come ruin or rapture, the faces that need feeding and washing and kissing before school. Something happens and we say, how could I not have known?

How could you have, ever, known?

Does any of this make sense? I’m trying to say we don’t make sense to each other, mothers and daughters, and I’m trying to say I think it’s all right, that the chasm isn’t as important as the bridge we’re stringing across it, which will hang there until it’s needed. It’s 21 years and 70 miles wide, that bridge, between my mother and I. It’s two floors, in the house my daughter and I inhabit now, and 38 years, and a single breath when I hear her stir in her bed, in her warm safe bed at night.

My grandmother died at 91. My mother-in-law, two years ago. My daughter asked me, after her Nana’s funeral, how long do people live? How much time will there be, between us?

I didn’t have an answer for her.

All I had were numbers.

I hope that someday she’ll tell me what they mean.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

If you want happy in your inbox every day subscribe to this. I’ve learned a ton about skincare and online consignment and country music and it got me into Hadestown which is maybe not the HEALTHIEST musical to be obsessed with at the moment but it’s giving us something to listen to in the house that isn’t Disney.

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Who the Heroes Have Always Been

Last night I was putting Kick through her evening paces — bathing, teeth-brushing, cat-petting, story-reading, delaying, water-getting, more delaying, singing, one-more-hugging — and I heard my neighbors outside yelling Bon Jovi songs into the air.

My friends and I text each other constantly: You okay? I’m going out, need anything? Skype, chat, check-ins, bitching about small stuff, who said he was going to put the dishes away and didn’t. Whose kids are driving them crazy. Whose dog won’t stop barking.

Who’s still working, day and night, keeping people well or trying to. Teaching in prison. Caring for pets. Delivering food. Do you need a mask, I can make you one. I have extra sanitizer, I can leave it on your porch.

The world has shrunk to the ten, twenty people I love the most. Sometimes, when Kick and Mr. A and I are at the dinner table, the world shrinks to three. The tiniest circle there is. We don’t pray, but sometimes we hold each other’s hands, as if blood is salt and can protect us.

Friends miles away have tested positive. People I admire have tested positive. Loved ones of loved ones won’t stop going out, don’t believe this is real, and we despair: I can’t get on a plane to go see my dying sister, but you are going to the Cracker Barrel?

There’s so much longing for a crisis, in our culture. We fetishize what we do when the chips are down, when the earth is caving in: Then I’ll be in my element. Then I will feel important. Then I will do something that matters.

Then I, I, I, I.

We all think we’re gonna lead the rebellion, rebuild the city, become part of the brave band of heroes who will be lauded forever in history as if that’s a thing that has ever existed, as if we’ve ever been able to choose who gets the headline.

We wait for that moment when we can raise a flag and make a speech and we think that’s how the work gets done. Where are our LEADERS, we lament, and call out for Thai food, and forget to tip the man who brings it. We yell at the checkout girl. We mutter darkly about the boys on the corner.

Where is the crisis? It’s all around us. I interviewed a comedian, after 9/11, in those awful stunted days when nothing felt normal and we didn’t yet know how stupid it was all going to be. I can’t remember his name but I’ll never forget what he said when I asked about laughter, about how even:

“Every day is 9/11 for somebody.”

I am good, in a crisis. I always have been. I am comfortable where the disaster is. Six months later, when things have improved for me (when, goddamnit), a switch will flip, I will stop sleeping, stop eating, stop taking my pills, ask a therapist: why now?

Mental illness loves best the vacuum adrenaline leaves behind.

These things have such a long train, pulling behind them. So many died from Hurricane Katrina, years after Katrina; from Ground Zero, decades after the fire went out. Stress on bodies, skipped treatments or appointments. None of this is worth it to feel like you matter.

Keep your really bitchin’ charter schools and condos. I will take my friends.

I have tons of ideas about what’s to be done. I think every day about writing: A new WPA, for everything from bridge-building to archiving. What leadership is truly worth, why we clamor for Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders to STEP UP AND LEAD when in truth we don’t know whose voice we’ll need til we hear it and we can’t hear it over the sound of Fox. I rage for a moment and then turn away.

We do yoga in the basement, poke things with sticks on long walks. The cats sleep on my feet. I put off drinking til 5, even on weekends. When the sun comes out I run outside and turn my face up to the sky.

We write thank-you cards to firefighters and sanitation workers. Kick and I watch every Disney movie twice while Mr. A snores on the couch.

The phone buzzes; my mother, Mr. A’s cousins, my high school friends: I’m okay. Are you? We joke, we make a time for Google hangouts, we game out future paychecks and toilet paper supplies and who still has cleaning products. We order pizza. We tip as much cash as we can scrounge. We wash our hands.

I would like to say when this is over — as if this is ever going to be over, as if over exists, as if it ever has — we will remember, we will be kinder, but I do remember, from the time before this, and the time before that, and the time before the time before the time before that.

We have always been all that we have.

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Not Everything Sucks

I mean, kind of it does. but people have this phenomenal capacity: 

PARIS (AP) — In the age of confinement, Elisha Nochomovitz figured out a way to run a marathon anyway – back and forth on his balcony.

That’s right. He ran 42.2 kilometers (26.2 miles) straight, never leaving his 7-meter-long (23-foot) balcony.

He saw it as a physical and mental challenge, but he also shared the images online as a way “to extend my support to the entire medical personnel who are doing an exceptional job,” he told The Associated Press from his apartment in Balma, a suburb of the southern French city of Toulouse.

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You Already Know Where It Goes

So here’s what’s gonna happen.

A lot of people are going to get sick. They won’t know for sure if they’re sick, because there aren’t enough tests, and nobody can afford the ones that we do have.

Because nobody will know anything for sure, and a lot of people will be sick, most businesses will stay closed. Most will be unable to pay their employees, so a lot of people are going to be sick and broke.

Sick broke people make decisions aimed at not being sick or broke no more. Not all of those decisions will be harmless to themselves or others.

The prospect of sick broke people making bad decisions will freak a lot of upper class people out.

Those people will call their suburban police departments, which in case you haven’t noticed are strapped for war every second of the day even though their biggest call in a month is barely a moving violation. Those police departments will respond to every shoplifter like they’re John Dillinger and things will start getting out of hand.

A crime that would barely make a blip in a weekly newspaper’s police blotter will get blown up by the Rush/Fox/morning news industrial complex until I start getting texts from out-of-town relatives who already think living anywhere with two stoplights is asking to be robbed and murdered. Like six guys will knock over a liquor store and ordinarily that’s Thursday, but before the week is out your dad will have sixteen emails from the NRA all saying some variation on “DO YOU WANT YOUR WHITE WOMEN RAPED? CLICK HERE TO ANSWER NO AND GET A FREE T-SHIRT AND A GRENADE LAUNCHER.”

The same types of guys who were dragging their guns around the Virginia statehouse a month ago will be spray-painting LOOTERS WILL BE SHOT ON SIGHT on their garages and then the politicians will start in with JUST ASKING QUESTIONS or some such. Those questions will not be about why people are sick and broke, by the way. The questions will be about how violent white people should get right now, and how few consequences they can possibly face for said violence.

I don’t know where we go after that.

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Not Everything Sucks

FREE BOOKS. 

I’m sure you all were on this way before I was but I figured out how to do this finally YESTERDAY and I’m already halfway through a book I’ve been thinking about reading for YEARS and I finished Gideon the Ninth which you all need to read so we can talk about lesbian necromancers in space and what everyone’s deal might actually be, so on the off chance you didn’t know you could do this, you should do this immediately instead of being on Twitter all day or in addition to it. It will improve your life.

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Not Everything Sucks

Molly Seidel exists: 

Getting to the start line of the trials was a victory in itself. Seidel would not have believed it was possible just six months ago. “And if they told me, ‘You’re going to get second at the Olympic trials marathon,’ I’d be like, ‘OK, that’s funny.’”

Seidel has shared her struggles with disordered eating, and knew that recovery would not be easy. She told Runner’s World that she turned down sponsorship offers four years ago when she was not emotionally ready to turn professional despite her success at Notre Dame.

“Your long-term health is more important than running a fast 5K three months from now,” she said. “For people who are right in the middle of it, that’s the worst thing. It’s going to take a lot of time. I’m probably going to deal with it for the rest of my life. You have to treat it with the gravity that it demands.”

What a badass.

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Not Everything Sucks

This guy exists: 

Stewart never expected this to become his life’s calling. It goes back to the Great Recession, which began in December 2007, when he was working as a veterinarian at an “economically challenged” animal shelter in Modesto, California, and was overwhelmed by the sheer number of stray animals who needed help.

He wanted to show his young son the importance of giving back, so one day, he went to a soup kitchen with his son and girlfriend and started asking people with pets if he could examine their animals.

“I knew then and there I was going to keep doing it,” he said. “There’s so much need out there.”

There’s a homeless man whose patch includes a corner near my office who has a tiny kitten with him at all times. Little thing is well cared-for and in fact generally eats better than its human, as people toss cat food into his donation box as well as money. Shelters won’t allow animals, and this man will not be parted from his cat, so they’re out there, rain or shine. Good on this vet for doing the work in front of him.

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Not Everything Sucks

Jalaiah Harmon exists: 

Though Jalaiah is very much a suburban kid herself — she lives in a picturesque home on a quiet street outside of Atlanta — she is part of the young, cutting-edge dance community online that more mainstream influencers co-opt.

The Renegade dance followed this exact path. On Sept. 25, 2019, Jalaiah came home from school and asked a friend she had met through Instagram, Kaliyah Davis, 12, if she wanted to create a post together. Jalaiah listened to the beats in the song “Lottery” by the Atlanta rapper K-Camp and then choreographed a difficult sequence to its chorus, incorporating other viral moves like the wave and the whoa.

She filmed herself and posted it, first to Funimate (where she has more than 1,700 followers) and then to her more than 20,000 followers on Instagram (with a side-by-side shot of Kaliyah and her performing it together).

This sort of internet anthropological detective work is always fascinating to me, because I get to the end of the day and am like why are we all talking about llamas all of a sudden, having not seen the progression.

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Not Everything Sucks

Roger Angell is still with us: 

In 1962, Shawn decided that The New Yorker needed more sports pieces, and, knowing that I was a fan, asked if I wanted to go down to Florida and write something about spring training. I was surprised he even knew there was such a thing. I’d never been to spring training, so I said yes, thank you, and went down to the White Sox camp, in Sarasota, where I found the little wooden stadium jammed with elderly fans watching the young stars. Later stops at larger parks in St. Petersburg and Tampa confirmed this peaceable view and also offered a first look at the squirming newborn Mets. The piece, “The Old Folks Behind Home,” ran a few weeks later in the magazine, and everybody seemed happy with it. It happened without any plan at all from me. I didn’t see it as a career move, I mean. And the long trail of those pieces and books happened one by one and grew only out of my own pleasure and excitement over the endless complexities and beauties of the game.

I don’t want to live in a world without him in it.

A.

Happy New Year

This one was a motherfucker and next one’s gonna be worse.

Sorry. You here for consolation? Wrong shop, chief.

I wrote this in the wee hours of the morning after Trump’s election, and the fight was barely hours in coming, and we’ve been losing ever since, every day, on everything: Charlottesville, Kavanaugh, Gallagher, abortion, the ACA, the Muslim ban, the border camps, every single fucking day it’s another kick in the guts.

You tired? Anybody here fucking tired?

(We’re all so, so tired.)

They’re counting on us being tired.

Go get a B12 shot, take your stims with a shot of vodka, duct-tape the holes in your shoes. I have nothing to say to you that will make it easier. Bite down on a stick.

Buckle up, bitches. Land hard, roll left. Drink some coffee, pour some whiskey in it if you have to, strap on your knee brace and let’s fucking go.

A.