Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

A.

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.

A.

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.

A.

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.

A.

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.

A.

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.

A.

 

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.

A.

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.

A.

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.

Not Everything Sucks

Can’t stop the signal: 

Since October, a wave of anti-government protests has swept across Iraq. The protesters represent a cross-section of society and, unusually for a traditionally patriarchal country, women have taken a leading role.

Their prominence is celebrated in murals which have sprung up across the capital, Baghdad.

Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, epicentre of the protests, has been transformed into a hub of creative defiance.

I won’t repost the photos so you have to go to the link to look at them all. They’re gorgeous.

One of the most frustrating things about the post-9/11 discourse was the half-assed discussion on cable news about “the Arab world” as if people aren’t, you know, people, and don’t want the same things. It’s regressive and colonialist and racist, and all you have to do to disprove it is look at what people have done with the spaces given them. Give people a surface, and we’ll paint you one hell of a picture.

A.

Virtual Christmas Party!

Welcome! Come on in! Everyone here loves you and is so glad to see you and we’re glad you’ve decided to stop by. Grab a drink, a handful of Chex Mix, and make yourself at home.

Party closed. I love you all. Behave yourselves today and tomorrow and remember, there is a place where you’re valued, loved, and admired as brave fucking badasses.

A.

 

On Ice

Kick loves ice skating.

As a profoundly un-athletic person whose only physical effort was a running routine that went tits-up after my back got destroyed three years ago, I have refused to invest any emotional energy into my child’s physical prowess. I have no idea if she can do a somersault. She runs kickball bases like a drunk freshman headed for Taco Bell. It’s all fine. She’s tried soccer and tennis with middling enthusiasm, but last winter, she begged to go skating.

Her first lesson, she spent on her butt.

I mean, typical, of course, but she didn’t know that, and she was PISSED. She threw her tiny baby helmet across the park-district locker room like an NHL player denied the Stanley Cup and said, “I am NEVER doing that again.”

I got down on my knees in front of her and looked her right in her red, embarrassed, angry face. “Yes, you are.”

Most of the time this child — with her thinky-face, and her insistence on reading and following directions to the letter, and her boundless loyalty — is her father. But some of the time she’s me, and this was one of those times.

“You sucked at this today. You were really bad at it.”

“I KNOW, and I –”

“And you’re gonna go out there next week and suck at this again.”

Silence.

“You’re gonna suck at this every Saturday for nine more classes because that’s how many Mama paid for. And because EVERYONE sucks at EVERYTHING the first time they do it. And you might get to the end of these nine lessons and still suck.

“At which point you tell me you want to quit, and off we go. But you don’t know yet if you’ll keep sucking so you gotta suck a while longer.”

She nodded. This, God help her, made sense to her. She did the next nine lessons, plus a practice a week. She did the next class, plus two practices a week. She got her own skates, her own skate bag, an outfit just for skating. She asked to go to open skates and get extra ice time. She befriended her teacher and classmates and watched skating videos online. She laughed when I called her my rink rat.

She got promoted from the baby class to the big-kid class.

And here’s where things came to a screeching halt again.

Drew Magary wrote this last week, about the economy: 

It’s perfectly natural to only want to work with, and employ, the best people possible. I know I feel better working alongside people I respect and admire. But what about everyone else? What about the B and C and even D players? Do they deserve to eat fucking rat bones for the rest of their lives, just because they couldn’t magically invent gorilla glass on demand for Steve Jobs?

This is the quiet tragedy of 2019 America. Our economy has been optimized and perfected into rendering the bulk of the workforce unacceptable to those in power. If you didn’t fucking graduate from MIT at age 15 and win three different seasons of Shark Tank, you’re fit to be cut. Consulting firms are paid handsomely to sniff you out and prevent you from hindering your poor company’s progress. You are not an A player, and therefore you deserve to rot. Only the special are allowed to survive.

I don’t want to lionize mediocrity or laziness, but: No matter how hard I practice and how much I learn, I am never going to be a concert pianist or a fighter pilot or cure cancer, and there is something deeply wrong with a society that tells us all that we have to dream that big.

I have an acquaintance whose spouse is the sort of person who gets two glasses of wine in her and starts thinking everyone agrees with whatever’s in her head; we were at a party recently and she started bitching about her “loser” son. He lacks ambition, he just screws around, he doesn’t want to make anything of himself, never does anything, blah blah blah.

Did he live with her, smoke weed all day, sell crack to the local kindergartners? Was he in jail, had he impregnated a member of the clergy, did he have to steal for his food? Nope. Turns out this young man has a job, pays his rent on his own place, and on weekends what he most likes to do is play with NERF guns, which honestly sounds fun as hell.

It took everything in my body not to say WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, DO YOU NOT KNOW PEOPLE’S KIDS ARE DEAD OR DYING OR IN CAGES? I do not get why our standards have to be sky-high for everybody. Why can’t some of us be okay? “You could have been an astronaut” is not actually TRUE, not for all of us, and there needs to be a place for those of us who are claustrophobic and can’t do science to still exist.

I am hard on my kid; I make her do more schoolwork than her teacher requires and I’m strict about manners and behavior with guests and screen time and such. It feels mean, a lot of the time, because I don’t know where the line is between teaching her something and becoming the villain in a story, because none of us know that line, we’re all just guessing. I know I am hard on her. She knows it, too, but:

I do not care one whit if she can axel or lutz or hip-check bigger kids into the boards. I don’t care if she competes or wins trophies or which trophies, if she does. It does not matter at all to me if she’s good at this or at anything else. Of course I don’t want her to starve or end up being exploited but I live in an area with a lot of competitive preschooling, you know? Like they need to know four languages and be reading textbooks by second grade. And it’s such, such, such bullshit, and it doesn’t produce success, and even if it does, do you know how many miserable smart people I know?

Our expectations cannot be sky-high for everybody. And if the best we can hope for is okay, then we need to be okay with that, and not look at our kids like every thing they do is going to be THE THING, the moment when they shoot into the stratosphere. Some of ’em will be right here on the ground. They’ll have to live here. They’ll have to know how.

In Kick’s big kid class, she wasn’t the fastest anymore, or the best. She was the slowest, again. She fell down the most, again. She flunked the first go, couldn’t go on to the next class, got a “needs improvement” report card, and she’s five, I mean, she doesn’t have a ton of experience with failure.

One day in big-kid class she fell, hard, like I HEARD it sitting in the soundproofed parents’ area where we all try really hard not to watch our kids so that our kids won’t look at us watching them and will pay attention to their own stuff. I heard her just absolutely eat it and I saw her stay down for a minute and I ran over to the other side of the rink figuring that even if she hadn’t cracked her tailbone she’d never want to skate again.

Her teacher had helped her up and they were sitting on the bench by the time I got over to them, and I stopped before they saw me. They were talking, and I saw the teacher ask her a question. I don’t know what she said, but I was watching when Kick answered.

“I’m ready,” she said. “Let’s go back out.”

A.

At Your Expense

Everybody had a good time clowning on this, and on this asshole, who says things like this: 

We successfully launched the Falcon Heavy rocket, which is the most powerful rocket in the world by a factor of two. So that’s twice the power, twice the thrust of the next biggest rocket. And we actually launched a Tesla — my Tesla Roadster — to Mars orbit. The reason we did that is actually because, normally, when a new rocket is launched, you just put a dummy payload, which is like a block of concrete or something.

Right. Not creative in any way.

Super-boring. So we were like, okay, what is the least boring thing we can launch?

And really the problem isn’t whether Tesla is a shitty automobile or not, the problem is that civic leaders give people like Musk their time and money when, like, those are both needed elsewhere.

I take a train into the job every morning. I pick it up at a station where the staircase is crumbling and there is no elevator (so good luck if you’re using a wheelchair). There’s a small, way-too-narrow escalator that is broken and has a sign on it that says it will be broken until APRIL.

Hundreds of people use this station each day to get to work or school or friends’ houses or whatever.  It’s very much too small for the volume of folks trying to get through it, it smells weird, and again, good luck if you have any limitations on your mobility at all.

Could we maybe throw a few billion at fixing that before we dig another goddamn tunnel through the city for rich people to get to the airport? 

Look, Elon can do whatever he wants with his money, as can every other rich asshole on the planet, but we are not obligated to indulge it when we should be fixing the escalators, making the staircases wider and easier to climb, figuring out where the smell is coming from, you know, boring public improvement shit.

I know that doesn’t sound as visionary and sexy as launching, like, a car into space or yelling CYBERTRUCK a lot, but imagine if that was the thrust of our major efforts and not indulging a man-baby in his weird dreams.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

 

The Mandalorian exists and is good:

We’re only three eps in and so there’s still a lot of clunky “this is the character that I am, allow me to say aloud my most defining traits so that you may see them” dialogue, but it’s very Original Three Star Wars in that everything looks broken and messed up. Everything in Star Trek always looked like a theater company worked really hard to paint it nice; Star Wars was like three stoners realized they had a diorama due the next day and glued an answering machine to a toaster. This, despite all kinds of Disney money, is very … that.

Also I’m pretty sure it’s just The Professional with spaceships, which I’m always here for.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

This guy’s still catching lobster: 

John shows me the lobster fisherman’s license he received at age 16. Dated July 1, 1938, the creased and torn document is a remnant from the Depression, when lobsters sold for 15 cents a pound. After high school, he bought a brand-new boat, paying for it the Maine way: “I went into the woods and cut 100 cords of pulpwood with a bucksaw and ax,” John remembers. “There weren’t no chainsaws.”

Via Virgotex.

A.

Asylum

These are the people we’re turning our backs on: 

The first two months at the Kenosha Detention Center felt like a nightmare. You are so enclosed you don’t have the opportunity to move around. That’s how you start going crazy. That’s how Kenosha was for me.

The detention center was a mix of immigrants and actual criminals. We were in the same detention as criminals who’ve committed murders, gang bang, and stuff. You don’t have time to rest. You don’t have the pleasure of going outside to play or having social time—none of that. At the detention center, you don’t really have privacy. They are making you understand that you’ve come into America and it’s not all rosy.

After the first month or so, I forced myself to read books to pass the time. I read about the history of Native Americans. The Americans we see today are actually immigrants; the real Americans, which are the Native Americans, you barely see. So I felt empowered when I read books like that. It gave me the courage to say, Yes, I have a place here too.

I ended up staying close to four months in detention before I was released. It’s not been easy staying here in Chicago without family. I miss my little kid. I am trying to figure out how to get them here. I grew up without a father and I don’t want my little girl to go through the same process. Everyone says America is a haven and they see America as a paradise where everything works smoothly. But it’s a different story.

I know it’s tired and bullshit to say “this is not my America” since in many cases yes, this has always been this America. But it’s not bullshit to say this SHOULD NOT BE my America, that we should not be liars and hypocrites just because we’ve been so in the past. The whole entire ass point of bringing up bad shit we’ve done before is to not do that shit no more.

We can afford to do better, and more than that we are obligated to do better. Or we are obligated to shut up about whose America this is.

A.

The Capacity for Joy

If they haven’t taken it from Ilhan Omar you don’t get to despair:

I get that it’s easier to say “meh, nothing’s going to change, Trump’s going to get re-elected because the Democrats are having a primary” than it is to look at everybody fighting like hell and decide you need to do that too, but come on. If the very faces of what Trump’s supporters hate can dance, you can work.

I post these “not everything sucks” posts not to be like LALALALALA THERE ARE STILL CUTE ANIMALS IGNORE THE FASCISM but to say that if you mean to give up, here’s what you’re giving up on. Get tired. Everybody’s tired. Get some sleep and keep going.

A.

Punishment is the Point

I wrote this shortly after Trump took office and it remains true even if no one listened: 

 FOR TRUMP means they get to bully right back. FOR TRUMP means they get to tell their liberal sister-in-law that she’s a stupid bitch. FOR TRUMP means instead of respecting a black or brown person, they get to call that person names. FOR TRUMP means they get to turn off that nagging instinct, nurtured by the churches they say mean so much to them, that maybe they should help the big scary world that’s burning down outside their windows. FOR TRUMP means they get to feel like being mad is enough.

I thought of that again reading this:

Like … hold them accountable how? Hold people who don’t like the president accountable? By … re-electing the president they don’t like? I make as many jokes as anyone about how Owned I, a Lib, am all the time by their stupid non-conspiracy conspiracies, but this is truly how performative the GOP and its hate-radio larvae are. They want to be seen to punish people for daring to disrespect Trump. They want to hold people accountable for existing in opposition to someone they like. This is their most sincerely held belief. This is it. This is, in fact, the ballgame.

Don’t just vote against whoever the Democrat puts up. Vote against that person’s supporters. Vote against everyone you don’t like. Vote against everything that annoys or inconveniences you. Vote to hold people who boo a president accountable. It’s so bone-deep and blood-simple, the rage they’ve nurtured and convinced people is some kind of principled stand. Re-elect Trump to hold the people who booed him accountable? You have got to be kidding me.

And this:

Everybody pointed out that they could have been in the hearings all along, which of course they could have been. They know that. That’s not the point. The point is to perform for their audience and goddamn, they did that really well.

We gotta stop acting like we’re gonna point out some blatant hypocrisy and they’ll be like oh, I’m so sorry, you’re right, I didn’t realize I was doing the very thing I’m accusing you of doing, how gauche of me. They don’t care. They know and they know their supporters know, and neither of them gives even one single shit about it because this is fandom, at this point, it’s cosplay, it’s a stage and all they have to do is get the laugh.

It’s why appealing to them through policy is laughable. It’s why arguing the facts is too naive to even be charming. You have to leave the venue. You have to end the discussion. You have to drown out their shouting not with facts in opposition but with your own motivating stories and stop worrying if they listen or not. The ONLY thing you can do is change the subject. The only thing you can do, in the face of someone who just wants to OWN you, is to be somewhere else.

I suggest we start with polling places.

A.