blog

2017

17 Things I Will Miss About (My Experience Living in) Ithaca

I’m not really sure how to close out my time in Ithaca. I’ve really let myself settle into this house on Hudson Street, more than I’ve let myself get comfortable in many years. If I’d had expectations — I generally avoid expectations — my last year in Ithaca (for now, of course) would not have been what I expected. A central theme of this year was finding people, places, and experiences that had been just out of reach for a while. Much of what I found was even within myself.

I am not particularly sentimental, but I strongly believe in the value of ritual. For that reason, I will use the millennial-sanctioned ritual of the listicle piece as I mull over my time here, especially the time from August 2016 to today.

Here are 17 things I will miss about (my experience living in) Ithaca:

  1. Sidewalks. Now, many of the things I’ll miss are based on my specific past. I’m from a small town. We do not have sidewalks. If we did have sidewalks, there would be nowhere to walk, and gaps of miles. For the past year, I have lived in a house that opens onto a sidewalk. I do not take this for granted. I hope to continue to have sidewalks in my life. Walking places is the best.
  2. Fellow vegetarians. There are almost always “vegetarian options” in Ithaca — on campus, at people’s houses, in grocery stores and restaurants. I don’t like to go around saying I’m a vegetarian, but there’s almost always a more vocal vegetarian who takes one for the team (without, of course, knowing I think we’re on a vegetarian team together.) Shout out to all the other vegetarians for making #vegetarianculture possible!
  3. Mental health resources. For a relatively tiny city, Ithaca has a relatively substantial amount of mental health resources. One of these specifically has changed my entire life. Different groups, agencies, clinics, therapists, social workers, and other wonderful groups and professionals have done the same for many other friends and acquaintances. Thank you.
  4. The puppies and babies. If you are walking downtown, it seems that almost everyone has a puppy or a baby. Some people have BOTH. I want to cry pretty much every time this happens.
  5. ~Nature~. Ithaca is so beautiful and I will miss all the dams and the trees and the flowing water! They have trees where I’m from but it’s not the same.
  6. Outdoorsiness. Living here has definitely brought out my own desire to spend more time outdoors (which I’ve always enjoyed a lot, but not as much) because it’s so much a part of the culture.
  7. People sitting still. In most cities, people are always moving. Even if they’re, like, sitting on a bench reading a book, they’re also eating two sandwiches and sending emails. Here people, like, sit. They read books. They read each page so slowly, probably, that the words bore into their minds. I like that environment.
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    source

    The ability to have favorite places. There are so many places to get lunch or sandwiches or coffee or pizza that you can be like, “My favorite place is…” or “My friends and I go to…” This means that there’s more than one place, which is very exciting if you are from a town with little to no places, and it’s also good for capitalism.

  9. Many tattoos on humans and many places to get them. (See above in re: many choices.) There are three tattoo parlors on one block and another around the corner. That’s incredible.
  10. Love for independent media. This includes WRFI, Ithaca College’s Buzzsaw magazine (I’m biased on that), and the Park Foundation’s tireless support of these resources.
  11. The TCAT, which is the public bus system. Everyone loves to hate the TCAT, but it got me to so many interesting places and opportunities off campus back in the day. Go TCAT!
  12. The pedestrian bridge on Giles.Colombia-Street-Bridge-1.jpg

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  13. The playground off of the South Hill Recreation Trail.
  14. An excellent public library. (Where I’ve also met many of my favorite Ithakids*!) (*Ithakid: a child of Ithaca.)
  15. The beautiful perfect infant and toddler I got to watch grow (and help with the growing a little even) for the past ten months as their babysitter.
  16. So many of the people of this town, those temporarily or permanently residing. It’s bullshit to say I like “the people.” But I’ve met some good ones here.
  17. The guy in the red shirt singing “Piano Man” at Thursday karaoke.
Uncategorized

5 Tips for College Students Working with Tweens and Teens

After some reflection on four years of volunteering, interning, working with, and teaching youth, here are the five biggest takeaways I came up with — and I want to share them with you!

  1. You’re not that much older than them — use that as a strength, not a weakness.
  2. Ask them for feedback. Kids are given so few opportunities to craft their own experiences. Let this be one experience in which they have agency.
  3. It’s not your kids’ jobs to educate you about their identities. Maybe you are working with a teen who is queer or trans or indigenous or Jewish and you’ve never met someone else with that identity. That’s ok, but you have to do your research. Look online, talk to your friends and professors, and don’t perpetuate misconceptions that are avoidable.
  4. It’s good to keep kids on track, but never sacrifice bonding and community for another minute filmed or paragraph written.
  5. BE VULNERABLE. If you want your kids to be honest and open about their stories, they deserve to have you set an example.

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(Gleaned from experiences at the Tompkins County Public Library, Summer Discovery, and most of all Writopia Lab — thank you to everyone involved)

2017

Jan. 21, 2017

Today, I was honored and humbled to speak at the Women’s March on Ithaca in Ithaca, NY.  According to the Ithaca Voice, over 10,000 people were there, which is wild considering that Ithaca’s resident population is 30,000.

(Click here for audio of my speech, that I will reflect on when I am old and grey and do not cringe at the sound of my voice)

I spoke for those four minutes, but mostly, I listened. I read signs, and was overwhelmed by the amount of families who brought small children with their own messages to share. I listened to other speakers and musicians. I listened to the people in the crowd reflecting with their friends as I reflected with mine.

I was sobered by the reminder that 53 percent — 53 percent! — of white women voted for Donald Trump. I thought about my roles as a white woman, a young person, a journalism student, a future and current educator. What can I do differently?

The beauty of collective demonstration is incredible. I’m so glad I chose to march with my community today. I celebrate every person who marched and hope they found solace. But I also fully comprehend that this isn’t the end; this is just the spark. This is the beginning. There are so many ways to take action (call a senator/ hold up a sign/ hold a hand/ donate your money/ donate your time), and you should seize every one you can manage to.

Sending love.

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me & @domrecckio & @KaitlinLogsdon & @amandarliving / signs also by me, photo by @evansobkowicz

 

election 2016

10 MINUTES OF THE FIRST DEBATE: a prose poem

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photo by amanda

sept. 26, 2016

9:35 p.m. — 9:45 p.m.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, 68, is in a state of absolute zen. it’s the first time she’s truly been able to implement all her therapist has taught her. “breathe in, breathe out.” “something something else wisdom to know the difference.” the ocean! think of the ocean.

but she thinks of her granddaughter. it is her birthday.

 

donald trump: [talks]
# of interruptions: 0

hillary: [i have to look at him. i have to keep looking at his face. i have to. i have to. i have to smile.

fuck. am i smiling too much? close my mouth. i wanna talk but — gotta close my mouth.

is under leveraged is word?

scratching my nose scratching my nose.

it’s my granddaughter’s fucking birthday.]

hillary: [gets to talk]
# of interruptions: 2

donald trump: [talks]
# of interruptions: 0

hillary: [why did i have to wear the red suit just because he’s wearing the blue suit? i like the blue suit.

(smirks)

gotta turn that into a twitch

(twitches)]

lester holt: [finally says anything]

[lester holt mentions race]

[oh shit]

hillary: [yaaaaas]

donald trump: [gags on his water]

Black lives matter

White Privilege in Protesting: July 8 in Baltimore

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I’m on the purple circulator, the bus filled with orange-clad Orioles fans, at 6 p.m. on a Friday in July. This Friday holds meaning for me because I’m planning to go see the children’s movie “The BFG” in theaters. It’s my one full day off at this summer program, and I’m looking forward to this quiet introverted fun.

Soon after I board the bus, four people hop on together and grab the overhead rail in front of my seat. the Two closest to me are young white women with shortish hair and hipster glasses. On one, unshaven legs are apparent; on the other, unshaved armpits. One is holding a cardboard sign (folded over; I can’t read what it says) and one is wearing a #blacklivesmatter t-shirt.

The thing is that in America, July 8, 2016 isn’t just any Friday. It’s the first full week of July in 2016, a week that started as a standard celebration of American independence, a celebration interrupted by the fully-filmed murders of two different black men in two different cities by police officers, and then punctuated by the shootings of five police officers in Dallas, Texas on Thursday night.

And because of this, I know I need to go where these women are going.

I’m another glasses-wearing white woman on a bus. You’ve heard a lot from me lately, and from the rest of us well-meaning young white folks. You’ve seen us post that #blacklivesmatter. You’ve seen many of us fight with our conservative relatives in Facebook comments. You’ve seen us begin to show up at protests, or, at the very least, post a 10-second clip in our Snapstories of a rally we walk by. If we’re talking about white people in general, however, what you’ve mostly seen is silence.

As a white woman — a white girl, honestly, in both how I am perceived by others and how I perceive myself — I get to choose when I speak up. I even get to choose when i listen. This is the luxury of privilege. And it is horrible, because if someone is talking, especially if that person has different experiences from you, you should always try to listen.

Once I get off the bus, the accumulating protest isn’t hard to find. There aren’t a lot of people there yet, but there enough signs, megaphones, and police officers to see that it’s going to grow. After I sure the group of baseball spectators, some of whom I work with, are out of sight, I approach the group. Many people are in groups, talking — they know each other, they came together. Those with matching signs are apart of local activist groups; most proclaim the name of the People’s Power Assemblies, who I later learn organized the whole event. The protest is meant to recognize the racism responsible for the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile, as well as the many similar tragedies in Baltimore.

I’ve never seen such a diverse group of demonstrators. but this isn’t surprising — although the demonstrations for racial justice in my college town are almost always led by people of color, students and community leaders alike, Ithaca’s own protests and vigils are peopled with well-intentioned white allies (congregating mostly in their early 20s and, perhaps, early 60s.) Baltimore is an area with a black majority and genuine racial diversity. The first thing I have to do is confront and dispel my feeling of discomfort. Aside from my gender, I’m seldom in a demographic minority, and I certainly am right now.

The program begins with a succession of speakers, many of whom I can barely hear over the mainstream media’s buzzing helicopters hovering over the crowd. One woman speaks about her fiancee, killed by police in Baltimore 16 years ago. Another woman, Tawanda Jones, lost her brother Tyrone West in 2013, emphasizing that “fighting” means being out on the corner every day, not just when there’s dozens of allies there to back you up. A little boy — age 7, his father Rev. C.D. West, says later  — gets the most applause and whoops of anyone when he shouts and stutters about how “we’re not gonna give up!” Of course, it’s exactly for him that we can’t. There are representatives from the Green Party; there is a young black woman running for local office. A petition for her eligibility to run is being passed around the audience.

I have so many questions for the souls standing around me. What brought them there? Did they come on purpose? For the older people: for how long have they been standing up here, for how many years? For the little ones: how did their mothers explain to them why they’re standing on this corner? For everyone: thank you.

I listen to the speeches, jotting down only a few quotes. I am a listener. Asking these questions that fill me as both a journalist and a person would interrupt the sanctity of this pure moment.

The snaps and claps of the demonstrators come in waves. Each time the group is emotionally moved, there is a collective physical movement. I feel enveloped in something much bigger than myself.

After about an hour, the collective movement takes off in a march throughout the Inner Harbor, a touristy and urban center of Baltimore. Since it’s a Friday night, people are everywhere, snapping pictures of what’s going on. We get into the rhythm of chants, some of which I know and some I don’t. There are staples like “no justice / no peace” and “the people / united / will never be defeated.” Many are more specific to the struggles of baltimore: “all night / all day / we will fight for Freddie Gray.” Gray died in the back of a police car in April 2015 in Baltimore, sparking many of the “riots” that made national news. The officers present at his arrest are having charges dropped against them just this week, another tragedy of brutality for this city. Only one chant specifically maligned police.

Police were surrounding the protest, barricading the streets. It seemed these people were truly doing their jobs: protecting vulnerable bodies. Their faces remained stoic even when there were shouts against them, although there were few. How did these officers feel after Dallas just the night before? For once, were they just as frightened of escalation as protesters were?

As the march approached the police station, its final destination, I couldn’t hold my questions in any longer. I found a friendly face, introduced myself as Alexa, a journalism student, and smiled. I’d never been less nervous to do an interview in my life, which was automatically strange. Then again, I’d never been a participant journalist before, either; they don’t like that in journalism school.

I spoke first to Rebekah Kaufman, a Baltimore City Public Schools employee with a sign proclaiming “Justice for 12-year-old Tamir Rice” waving in the air.

“I feel it’s a very sad time in our nation’s history,” she said. “I wanted a time to hear about what other people are saying about the police shootings and the shootings of the police officers.” She’d hoped to hear more from the rally about the officers shot in Dallas yesterday, but that when she got here, she understood that this wouldn’t be the space for that.

“It’s interesting that there are many different opinions here,” she added. “I tend to be more on the moderate side. I didn’t agree with everything everyone said, but I agree with the general sentiment.”

I spoke next to Joe, who said he was a teacher. When I asked him why he was here today, he considered a whole succession of events in his personal life, beginning when he applied to 64 teaching jobs post-grad and only got a call back from Baltimore.

“Little did I know that I would get involved with all this work that the good folks of Baltimore are doing,” Joe said. Right now he is working in housing justice. Before his experiences here, he said, he “had never realize how much elected officials’ decisions can adversely impact folks.”

For Joe, justice in Baltimore was a connected issue: housing justice, racial justice, and everything in between. why wouldn’t he be there?

Leonardo White and Douglas Jones were standing near the back of the march. White’s responses came immediately to the here and now of the movement.

“Honestly, I feel like it’s important to be here today because these injustice with our justice system happen so frequently and if we don’t tell people what we want and what we stand for, things are never gonna change,” he said. It’s a “long and arduous path… but every step is a step closer to ending police violence.”

Jones agreed.

“Time and time again they’ve proven to us that our lives don’t matter,” Jones said, citing not only police violence but the co-opting of black culture, fashion, and entertainment.

“We have to fight the system because they’re killing us like animals for — I don’t even know what for.”

When we arrived at the police department, speak-outs and chanting continued. The streets were barricaded and officers and mainstream media vans were present in every direction. I took pictures and listened and chanted — until I became afraid. A few men were yelling at the police officers who were standing outside the department building, standing to protect both their haven and the demonstrators themselves.

As a white person, I left when I felt I was in jeopardy (not long before, in fact, four protesters were arrested.) I left when I was afraid that this three-ish hours of demonstrating in a city new to me could get me in trouble at my job. That was my white privilege in action, and writing about it doesn’t make it better.

As I walked away, cutting through the thinning crowd in the one direction we were free to walk in, the sign of a woman maybe 10 years older than me echoed the phrase that had repeated in my mind on the bus as the guy next to me made snide comments about the hairy-legged women: “White silence is white consent.”

It comes down to that simplicity. We can’t be white allies and not think that, say that, act on it. I’m doing my best to act on it now. And I know I won’t walk away next time. If I do, that feeling of being a part of something better is a self-serving illusion.

Because, as Douglas Jones told me, there’s only one reason we all marched that Friday evening.

“I believe it’s important to be here because black lives matter,” he said. “There’s no other way to say it.”

 

For pictures of what was happening near the center of the action, check the Baltimore Sun’s gallery.

book reviews, books, children's lit, LGBT, Uncategorized, ya

Books You Should Read, A to Z: A Response to Rookie’s May 9 “Dear Diary.”

This week, for the “Dear Diary” series on Rookie Mag, Ananda listed her “Books You Should Read, A to Z.” It seemed so fun I wanted to do it too! I didn’t think much about these, so, they aren’t all-time faves or anything. It was mostly the first book that came to mind or, if it was a tough letter, scrolling through some titles on Goodreads. Hope you enjoy!

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A is for the Alice… series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, with more than two dozen books following our protagonist Alice from fourth grade through college.

 

B is for So B. It by Sarah Weeks, a beautiful story taking on tough topics in an elementary-level chapter book.

 

C is for Coraline by Neil Gaiman, and also for creepy, which is what this book is.

 

D is for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, about two Latino boys discovering their sexualities.

 

E is for Everything on a Waffle, a really cute book by Polly Horvath that is literally about many objects on a waffle.

 

F is for Firefox by Joyce Carol Oates, about girl gangs but not in a trendy way like in a terrifying way, and is not appropriate for reading in conjunction with Everything on a Waffle.

 

G is for American Gods by Neil Gaiman, a straight-up mythological mystery-epic.

 

H is for How My Personal Private Journal Became a Bestseller by Julia DeVillers, which was later made into the 2006 Disney Channel Original Movie Read it and Weep starring Kay and Danielle Panabaker.

 

I is for If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and its companion books, written by Laura Numeroff with illustrations by Felicia Bond, spouting some serious life lessons.

 

J is for Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles, which provides a uniquely empathetic view toward teen pregnancy.

 

K is for The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, which is filled with so many wise quotes, including this one: “Finding out the truth is only half of it. It’s what you do with it that matters.”

L is for Lord of the Flies by William Goldman, which I like a lot solely because of the context in which I experienced reading it. I don’t think I would have liked it at all otherwise.

 

M is for Matilda by Roald Dahl. If you haven’t read Matilda, go do that right now. It probably will not take you long.

 

N is for A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, which is mad confusing but also my fave, probably because I have performed in three versions of it as four different characters.

 

O is for Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher, where a psychologist working with teen girls realized a lot of consistent ways they were fucked up, and also for Ophelia Speaks by Sara Shandler, editing an anthology by teen girls struggling with the things Pipher wrote about who wanted to articulate in their own voice instead of being talked about by someone else.

 

P is for Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E. Martin, which I first read years ago, have included in three papers I’ve written in college, and probably remains my favorite piece of narrative journalism. (Following everything by Joan Didion — Didion comes first.)

 

Q is for A Circle of Quiet, a sorta-true memoir by Madeleine L’Engle which is super-introspective and wise the whole way through. There’s a lot to underline.

 

R is for Ratgirl by Kristin Hersh, a really rad memoir about music and mental illness and growth.

 

S is for Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, a truly hallmark young adult book. Also, based on her internet presence and the one time my friend Maddy L. and I very briefly met her, Anderson seems to be like the nicest person ever.

 

T is for Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, a book that was so spooky in how it set its scenes in the forest that I was afraid to play outside alone for almost a month after finishing it as a kid.

 

U is for Unbearable Lightness, the memoir by Portia DeRossi (Lindsay on Arrested Development and Ellen DeGeneres’s wife) and not the Milan Kundera novel. It’s about her struggle with anorexia and she meets Ellen near the end and there’s some really lovely resolution.

 

V is for everything by Virginia Woolf but I’ll highlight Between the Acts, which was published posthumously and takes place around the framing of this huge community production and has some weird animal symbolism. (Like,  a lot of snakes!)

 

W is for A Wind in the Door also by Madeleine L’Engle, my personal favorite book in the Time Quintet which beautifully and unusually reveals the spirituality and magic of our insides.

 

X is for The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman, which honestly I haven’t read but my mom did, and I love a lot of other books by Alice Hoffman, so I bet it is great! (X is tough.)

 

Y is for I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, which Amanda gave me for my birthday (thanks girl!) and explores art, death, and twin-ness in a really beautiful way.


Z is for A to Z by Sandra Boynton! Is that cheating? Probably.

 

book reviews, books, children's lit, LGBT, Uncategorized, ya

“I’d Like To Sing, I’d Like to Shout: It’s Spring! It’s Spring! It’s Spring!”

Why stop now?

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This bunny and I appear to feel exactly the same way about spring.

Also, I’ve got to read more this spring! Since this semester started, I’ve only read books for either work or class, which I guess is to be expected… but I know I can do better.

1.BOYS DON’T KNIT (IN PUBLIC) by T.S. Easton (2015)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: knitting, toxic masculinity, having juvenile delinquent friends, anxiety, being in love with your teacher, when your mom’s a professional magician

ALSO READ: The narrator of this book is so beyond endearing. He reminded me a little bit of Stewart from We Are All Made of Molecules (see: winter reading.) If you want more books about knitting, I haven’t read it in years but I really enjoyed Chicks with Sticks by Elizabeth Lenhard when I was in middle school. (Also, while looking for the title of this book, I came across The Broken Circle: Yarns of the Knitting Witches—probably my favorite subheading of all time—and in that book, the author lists the knitting patterns of what the characters are wearing, which is low-key amazing.)

2. SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN by Jeff Garvin (2016)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: genderfluid identity, Congress, mental health, nice therapists, new friends, suicide, blogging, bullying, courage

ALSO READ: This book is so important and unique in the fact that there is a nonbinary character (aka, not a clear cisgender girl or guy) whose birth sex is NEVER mentioned: we get to see this character as they see themselves, in all their complexity. It’s different, but Simon (#3 on the list) is equally sweet and also equally exposes the struggles of anonymous Tumblrs in today’s high school landscape.

3. SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli (2015)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: emailing, school plays, sisters, close families, secrets, when your best friends have unreciprocated feelings for each other, coming out as gay, when that one cool English classroom at your school has a couch

ALSO READ: This book is adorable AND important. Read the above book too.

4. ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE UNIVERSE by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (2012)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: injuries, Texas, new friends, poetry, Mexican-American identity, prison, family secrets, violence against LGBT youth, when a dog is a boy’s literal best friend, fathers

ALSO READ: Other books that tenderly interweave family, culture, and sexuality. Most of these LGBT YA books don’t mention race at all, and if so, in passing; the characters are white by default. That’s not the case in this novel, featuring two Latino teen boys. For more YA books that include characters of color, check this great list by Malinda Lo.

5. THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS* by E. Lockhart (2008)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: the panopticon, boyfriends, secret societies, alpha males, pranks, old boys clubs, private boarding school, being Jewish, cool roomies who love horses, emails, the Jersey Shore

ALSO READ: This book is the shit. Read about the panopticon, read We Were Liars by Lockhart for an even MORE supenseful storyline, and listen to this Jenny Lewis tune; I think that Frankie would have felt a strong connection to it.

6. BRAIN ON FIRE ~ almost done ~

7. EVERYTHING EVERYTHING ~ almost done ~

     *        *      *      *     *     *

Summer reading list here, autumn list here, winter reading list here! 

*= I’ve read this book before

PS: Whenever I think about spring, a poem that I learned in, I believe, first grade echoes through my head. I just found it online, in one specific preschool spring lesson planning PDF! It’s on page 7. It comes along with activities, if you’re interested.

Image via Samantha Berger/Scholastic

sports

Can’t Stand Sports? Here’s What You Should Know

As most of you know, I’m a journalism major, which means I have to have a broad understanding of current events. Now, I’m all about current events! Educating myself political and culturally is a pretty good time. In addition to the research I do on my own time, my family and friends help me along. My mom loves awards shows (and especially the dresses), so I’ve usually got that covered. And, in some gender traditionalism, my dad really loves sports.

I do not love sports. I especially do not love watching sports.

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#sports

I swam in high school, and I enjoy watching the most aesthetically pleasant parts of the Olympics (figure skating in the winter, gymnastics and anything synchronized in the summer). But when those current events quizzes in classes come around, I really struggle when it comes to sports. Because (shh! don’t tell!) they are boring.

So, if you’re like me, to get the yearly briefing on sports, you text your dad a million questions about pro athletics about once a semester. If you’re in my position, I hope that the answers (and my little twists on them) are just as helpful for the next time you find yourself desperate to make small-talk online for the unisex bathroom at Buffalo Wild Wings.

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Shout out to Mr. Met!

 

  1. The Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets in the 2015 World Series.

The World Series is the baseball one. Baseball is the only sport I kind of follow, because it’s my dad’s favorite. Similarly, the Mets are the only team in any sport I’d say that I favor. I have a thing for their whole underdog vibe, especially considering their extraordinary and multigenerational fan base. I also think their NY on their caps is way cuter than the one on the Yankees caps. Additionally, as a conflict-averse child, being a Mets fan meant that it was way likely for a second-grade classmate to attack you for being a Red Sox or Yankees fan. (Literally calm down, pals.)

How to remember this: Replace “And we’ll never be royals/ It don’t run in our blood” with “And we are the Royals/ And guess what we won.”

 

2. The Superbowl is next weekend.

  • The Superbowl is the football one. It’s famous for the commercials and the halftime show as well as the football part.
  • This year’s teams are the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. The Broncos can kind of work in my brain, since there were probably cowboys in Colorado at some point.
  • Carolina’s QB (sportstalk for quarterback, who seems to be the famous one on the team) is Cam Newton. Simple to remember: Cam from Modern Family mentions being a former football player? And Cam probably also likes Fig Newtons, which are objectively the least-appreciated delicious processed cookie.
  • Denver’s QB is Peyton Manning. He has a brother also in the NFL and there’s a picture of him on the windows of some Dunkin’ Donuts locations.
    • Also, one time we were watching a movie in fourth- and fifth-grade Library Club (a not-so-popular extracurricular I was proud to be a part of) and Peyton and Eli Manning were in it telling us not to damage our books and some boys were like “PEYTON MANNING!” but it was mostly girls in the club who did not care, and most of the boys didn’t care either, and I remember wishing it was a famous author instead of some guys holding footballs. They did not know their market for that VHS tape.

 

  1. The summer Olympics are this coming August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Like all cities, Rio has a specific host of issues that could impede its ability to host a solid Olympics. These include:

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Ew.
  • Pollution in the bay where some water events like windsurfing will take place—not good, not safe. Officials have promised to reduce pollution in Guanabara Bay by the time the events take place, but who can say if it’ll really happen?
  • Many families being evicted from their homes in order to make way for the Olympic stadium—classism, much?
  • Lots & lots of street crime!
  • The mosquito-transmitted Zika virus is spreading throughout Brazil. It can lead to some serious birth defects; women in northern South America are being told by their governments to delay having kids for a few years, if they can.

 

4. NCAA football: Alabama beat Clemson.

  • Longhand: For the National College Athletic Association’s football championship this year, University of Alabama’s consistently-successful team (which is called the Crimson Tide #lolperiods) beat the Clemson University Tigers. (Clemson is in South Carolina.) The game was on January 11.
  • This is pretty easy for me to remember because my best friend Cate goes to the University of Notre Dame, which is also pretty into that whole football thing, but her little brother goes to U of Alabama, and she was pissed about this. Also, the Crimson Tide always prevails!
  • Sidenote: The NCAA is that same crew that does March Madness, the college basketball bracket championships, comin’ up in March.
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I literally cannot believe that this is still the logo of that team. When will people stop being used as mascots? It’s revolting. They should take one from Mr. Met and just have a guy whose head is a hockey stick.

5. The Stanley Cup happened last June, and the Chicago Blackhawks won! I am including this because ice hockey strikes me as a winter sport, with the ice and all, but the Stanley cup won’t be coming up for five more months.

Hope this preps you at least until the summer– who knows how we’re going ot keep up with the Olympics!

 

Images via Pinterest, the New Yorker, the Chicago Blackhawks, and top10base.com

book reviews, books, children's lit, Uncategorized

Winter Reading!

It does not come as a shock that I am going to continue logging what I read, though now it will be interspersed with what I’m reading for classes, too. Here goes, starting from #1 all over again!

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  1. MY LIFE ON THE ROAD by Gloria Steinem (2015)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: feminism, travel, Ms. magazine, India, Indian Country, organizing, father-daughter relationships, journalism, writing, the ’70s

ALSO READ: Throughout this book, in the chillest way, Steinem frequently mentions excursions with two of her best friends/two of the baddest bitches of feminist organizing in recent history, Alice Walker (writer of The Color Purple (!), among other works) and Wilma Mankiller (first woman Cherokee chief and also author of many things.) Read their books!

2. WE ARE ALL MADE OF MOLECULES by Susin Nielsen (2015)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: stepfamilies, broadcast journalists, when your dad comes out, gifted children, friendship, teen drinking, being the school mascot, death of a parent, Schrodinger’s cat, what character arcs!

ALSO READ: This book (middle grade? YA?) blew me away. It’s pretty unlikely you’ve read this, so just read it! My second idea is to ask your youngest friend for a recommendation on their favorite book. My wonderful 1o-year-old pal Scarlett recommended this one to me. It doesn’t matter if it’s Pinkalicious (my friend’s 5-year-old’s current fave) or if your youngest friend is 30! They’re still probably reading different books from you.

3. I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson (2014)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: twins, superstitions, old wives’ tales, sculpting, painting, closeted queer love, astronomy, recovering alcoholics, modeling, boycotting boys, death of a parent

ALSO READ: This book was wild. The alternating chronology and perspectives made it a fascinating web to untangle. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan has a similar puzzle of narration, but Egan’s isn’t meant to be tied up neatly; Nelson’s book is.

4. RUBYFRUIT JUNGLE by Rita Mae Brown (1973)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: lesbians, poor white people, Florida, sex, so much sex, homelessness, moving abruptly to NYC, college, oppression of queer folks, bluntness

ALSO READ: I’m taking a class about queer young adult books, so a lot of books about queer youth are coming your way! Rubyfruit‘s narrator, Molly, is very blunt and matter-of-fact about her sexuality, despite the fact that no one in her life or community is even vaguely open to questioning their sexual orientation, and Annie, in Annie on my Mind, takes a similar view; she knows what she is (although she’s quieter about it than Molly Bolt!)

5. ANNIE ON MY MIND by Nancy Garden (1982)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: lesbians!, teachers, private school, opera, first love, contraband ear piercing, New York City, Italians, socioeconomic class, art, the Cloisters

ALSO READ: This is the beginning of the #lesbianlife books I’m reading for my queer YA class! Rubyfruit (#4) and I’ll Get There… (#7) are both other NYC queer books.

6. WE WERE LIARS* by E. Lockhart (2014)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: Martha’s Vineyard, private islands, cousins, love, when your mom and her sisters (all super-rich) are fighting for the family’s estate, PTSD, migraines, golden retrievers, amnesia, thrillers

ALSO READ: This book has QUITE the ending, which I keep hearing compared to Gone Girl. I’ve never read Gone Girl, and I’m almost certain you have, but that’s still my rec.

7. I’LL GET THERE. IT BETTER BE WORTH THE TRIP. by John Donovan (1969)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: divorced parents, death of a parental figure, a daschund named Fred, NYC, alcoholic guardians, Episcopalian private school?, the late ’60s, new friends, queerness, kind of

ALSO READ: So, this is like the first LGBT YA book, apparently, which is sort of cool, but it barely mentions queerness/queer identity ’til near the end, but the kid is 13, keeps saying “I’m not a queer!,” and it takes place in the 1960s, so I guess we’ve gotta cut it a break. For another early LGBT YA book that involves major NYC sightseeing, read Annie on my Mind (above)!

8. PARROTFISH* by Ellen Wittlinger (2007)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: trans, ftm, new friends, nerds, Christmas pageants, gender roles, school TV crew, bullies, homeschooling

ALSO READ: My friend John knows all about this crew of books, and one he recommended is Beyond Magenta, a narrative and photo book profiling trans youth’s experience.

9. LUNA by Julie Ann Peters (2004)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: trans characters, sisters, lifelong BFFs, computer geniuses, having chemistry with chemistry lab partners, babysitting foibles

ALSO READ: I used to really love the book Define Normal by her and it’s probably still really awesome! Read that!

10. RAINBOW BOYS by Alex Sanchez (2001)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: swimmers, unprotected sex, biracial identity, abusive parents, little sisters, starting a gay-straight alliance, LGBTQ support groups, having a crush on your BFF, undiagnosed eating disorders, being unsure if you should keep dating your girlfriend, supportive moms, unsupportive dads, supportive dads

ALSO READ: This book really runs the gambit of Shitty Things That Can Happen to Teen Boys While They Are Also Struggling with Coming Out. I would recommend the beautiful  LGBTQ YA anthology Am I Blue? if you’re interested in coming out stories!

11. PANTOMIME by Laura Lam (2015)

PROMINENT ASPECTS: circuses, acrobats, intersex identity, transition, running away from your noble family, older brothers, corrupt leaders, probably being descended from the gods

ALSO READ: Ok, the concept of this book is so cool — intersex character runs away from being a princess in royalty and joins the circus — but I honestly did not like the execution of the book very much at all. Intersex people deserve way better YA lit representation. For books about circuses, however, I’ve heard The Night Circus is amazing.

     *        *      *      *     *     *

Summer reading list here, autumn list here, winter reading list here! 

*= I’ve read this book before

Image by Ezra Jack Keats via Amazon. (This is my all-time favorite winter book, and it’s probably some of yours too!)

 

Uncategorized

Happy Winter! & 4 Vital Resources

Hi friends! Happy December! For those of us in the northern hemisphere, in less than a week, our daylight hours will start to increase again– for me, that’s one of the greatest gifts of the holidays.

If you were going to stop reading after that paragraph, that is absolutely fine. However, if you’re going to read anything I post this year (and I’m grateful to say that I have posted/written many things I’m proud of) let it be this.

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I’ve collected some resources about making it through the supposedly-delicious holiday season when struggling with/in recovery from an eating disorder, as well as what to do if your friend or family member is struggling with the same thing. You might think- “Wait! That doesn’t apply to me!”

But it almost definitely does. A whopping 95 percent of the people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25, and those are the ages of many of you who will read this. If that’s not enough, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 women (!) struggle with an eating disorder. Do you know five women. Ok, so that’s kind of what I’m getting at. (Many men struggle as well, and their rates are even harder to find because so few seek treatment since eating disorders are often minimized as a mental health issue only for ladies.)

This post would be remiss without me mentioning something I almost never do: this post important to me for a lot of reasons. Even if I was only counting good friends with diagnosed or diagnosable eating disorders, it would take more than one hand. As a friend, this matters to me. As a body-positive feminist, this matters to me. And especially as a person who is in recovery from an eating disorder herself, this matters to me.

Thank you,

Alexa
1. 22 Things People with Eating Disorders Want Others to Know About the Holidays (This one is my favorite one!)

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2. 10 Things I Wish People Understood About Eating Disorders (Have this bookmarked and play it out of a speaker the next time someone says something ignorant.)

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3. How to Handle Holidays Feasts When You Have an Eating Disorder  (No matter what’s going on with you, it’s always important to create space for yourself during social times of the year!)

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4. Five Tips to Prepare for the Holidays (This one’s a little more clinical.)

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Images via Psychology Today, The Mighty, @fyeahmfabello on YouTube, Reddit, & The Mighty