Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Review: The Beauty

"We live our lives in one place and look in every moment into another."

Jane Hirshfield's latest collection, The Beauty, highlights these moments, moments in between moments. Hirshfield is known for her sparse, simple lines and they are highlighted beautifully in this collection.

Each poem takes on a small object or moment in time. From Perspective: An Assay, the line "Likes everything just as it is, then just as it is, then just as it is." counts off seconds like a ticking clock. There was another second past and another and another.

There are such simple stanzas, but the lines force the reader to linger and digest more than what lies on the page. Some other lines included:

"Generation./Strange word: both making and passing"

"How rarely I have stopped to thank/the steady effort of the world to stay the world."

"What caused the fire, we ask, meaning, lightning, wiring, matches./How precisely and unbidden/oxygen slips itself into, between those thick words.

This delightful poet offers us the chance, in this crazed world where the phrases simplify your life and doing it all coexist, to take a literal step back, curl up in a warm chair and see the every day moments that are missed.

A wonderful new collection from an accomplished poet which deserves a home on any bookshelf.


(Photo Credit-Amazon)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Snippets: Cicadas

One of my favorite things in the world is to hear the sound of cicadas on a hot day. THAT feels like true summer to me.

Horrifying (TW for sexual assault) Victim blaming at its finest

Whoop, there it is

YES.

23 Emotions people feel, but can’t explain

When You Kill Ten Million Africans, You Aren't Called Hilter

Truth, from this classic film I will forever hold a torch for this movie, one of my all time favorites.

Awful and fucked up

In California of all places, prison doctors have sterilized over 150 women. Why? They don’t want to have to provide welfare funding for any children they may have in the future.

The sterilization procedures cost California taxpayers $147,460 between 1997 and 2010. The doctors at the prison argue it is money well-spent.

Dr. James Heinrich, an OB-GYN at Valley State Prison for Women, said, “Over a 10-year period, that isn’t a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children – as they procreated more.”


Truth about people with anxiety


I think it’s because we haven’t addressed the deeper meaning of these “sorrys.” To me, they sound like tiny acts of revolt, expressions of frustration or anger at having to ask for what should be automatic. They are employed when a situation is so clearly not our fault that we think the apology will serve as a prompt for the person who should be apologizing.

It’s a Trojan horse for genuine annoyance, a tactic left over from centuries of having to couch basic demands in palatable packages in order to get what we want. All that exhausting maneuvering is the etiquette equivalent of a vestigial tail.


I hate it every time an unneeded apology slips out of my mouth. I know that my reasons go deeper than what is mentioned in the article; I apologize because of a learned habit growing up in an abusive home. If I apologized, I was less likely to be screamed at.

Yes!

We can end police brutality and racism. It is possible. To do so the Center for Popular Democracy and Policy Link partnered with protesters and street-level organizers to create a 15-point report, titled Building From the Ground Up: A Toolkit for Promoting Justice in Policing.

It includes all of the above steps as well as some other no brainers like obeying the 4th amendment and establishing a “use of force" standard.

Out in the Night Documentary

“In August of 2006, seven black lesbians from New Jersey were hanging out in the West Village of New York City when they were harassed and violently threatened by a man on the street. When they defended themselves, they were arrested and charged with attempted murder and gang assault. Four of the women — Renata Hill, Patreese Johnson, Terrain Dandrige and Venice Brown — plead not guilty, knowing they were acting in self-defense. They were convicted and given senteces ranging from 3 to 11 years. Their case became a focal point for activism supporting the women and their case, and protesting the violence, racism, misogyny and homophobia of the legal system that systematically prosecutes women for trying to save their own lives. They became known as the New Jersey Four.” - read more on Autostraddle

Monday, June 29, 2015

Adventures in Homeownership: Staycation

I took a staycation last week, partially to sleep for 11 hours straight most nights and partially to fix up some things around the house/check those items off the to-do list that had been lingering for awhile.


This is the view from our dining room. We re-arranged the couches to make the space more open. This is what the living room looked like after we moved in, not much had changed, with the exception of adding the green loveseat.


The view from our front door.


I also finally finished painting this wall. The rest of the laundry room will be white, but I wanted a nice accent wall. Also, painting in an enclosed space while maneuvering around a 14 foot tall ladder? Thank god I took gymnastics as a kid.


When they put the addition on the house, they left a drainage spot in the subfloor next to the water heater....which drains into the hvac spot under our bedroom. Geniuses, they were not. So we filled most of the hole with expanding foam, leaving space for any water overage. Once it's fully dry, we will slice off the excess and make it look a bit more eye catching than it is currently.

I also scrubbed the hell out of our bathroom and repainted the ceiling. No pictures from that because it was truly frightening.


A fun pic. The top photo is from our wedding five years ago and the bottom right pic is from our vow renewal in April. They make me smile every time I pass by them.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Snippets: FUCK YES LOVE WINS

Woke up Friday morning to the wonderful news that #LoveWins!!!!

Quickly confirmed with former college roomie that I will be permitted to wear a tutu as her flower girl in her future nuptials.

Police brutality

17 #SeanToon911 Tweets Are the Best Response to the White McKinney Man Who Called Police

Yay Hero Cats!

Alan Rickman + Helium = Beauty

Awww, I love this

Racism? What racism?

Fuck that awful woman

#FreeBree

This is wonderful

Finding employment after being in prison can be next to impossible.

Not only do these people have to battle the stigma of a criminal record, they are also barred from some types of jobs entirely, including those in the childcare, education and healthcare fields. It’s no wonder that so many ex-felons turn back to a life of crime just to get by; two-thirds are re-arrested within three years of their release.

But in Little Rock, Ark., one woman has given thousands of former inmates a second chance to contribute to society, local station THV11 reports.


#MorethanMarriage: Equal marriage has been a great start, let's keep the momentum going!

Iconic Pictures #Ferguson #FreeBree

Five black churches were set on fire this past week

Bad ass women

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Word of the Year: Half way through

2014 was a hard year for me. I purposefully chose a list of goals and an overarching word for 2015 to be, honestly, gentler to myself.

After reading this sweet article, I thought I might do something similar.

-Quality helped me deliberately pick books that I really wanted to read, rather than a bunch to have a high number finished at the end of the year. I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading Harry Potter.

-Quality helped me say goodbye to a lot of things that I didn't need, both before and after reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I had a massive yard sale/thrift store donation last weekend and for the first time in months, I can do a cartwheel in my living room. As one does. I'm even doing a re-examination of my harddrive, a virtual "does it spark joy" exercise with the plethora of pictures. I'm finding a lot I can happily hit the delete button on.


This is where I started in May. We'll see how much nicer it will look once I'm done. The complete size of files was 128GB. I'd like to have that under 100 when I'm done.

-Quality has helped me come to terms with my face and the fact that my inner teenager is throwing a temper tantrum. I posted this picture last summer and while it has gotten a tiny bit easier, my face isn't where I'd like it to be. Surprisingly, the aforementioned tidying book helped me with this. Seek gratitiude. My face has withstood so much abuse, both in trying to heal any breakouts and the effects of my anxiety. My face also has so much character and laugh lines because I don't shy away from a smile. So from now on, gratitude.

-Quality has meant removing toxic or unhelpful things from my life. I stopped hate reading a few things online and purged my social media accounts. I even purged my paper journals. There was a lot of pain that could be let go. So I gathered up all the ones that I wanted to release and burned them.



-Quality helped me appreciate the little things. I have this beautiful bunch of white flowers in my backyard, which are technically weeds. But they make me smile, so they stay.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

"It is only when we face the things we own one by one and experience the emotions they evoke that we can truly appreciate our relationship with them."

This cloud bedecked cover started showing up on newsfeeds, Instagram, and blog posts about a year ago. I was intrigued. And now I understand why. Marie Kondo has crafted a lovingly written book about how to change your life through cleaning up your house. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is a slim volume (200 pages) but the impact is far-reaching.

The premise of the KonMari tidying method is to pull everything, all of your possessions, onto one spot (starting with clothes and then moving onto to subsequent categories) and while holding each item, decide whether is sparks joy. The idea behind starting with everything in one place, rather than room by room, means it will be less likely that you forgot about that box in the closet in that room.

Once you have completely purged your house, storage is the next item on the to-do list to tackle. Kondo advises against trying to solve the storage problem before you completely finish discarding items, stating, "storage 'solutions' are really just prisons within which to bury possessions that spark no joy." In other words, if you decide that the 10,000 DVD's you own no longer have a place in your heart, rushing to buy a tower for them before you purge wastes time, space and energy.

While this book is about tidying, as the title suggests, the more present and underlying theme is gratitude. Have gratitude for items that are in your life and have gratitude for the items that you are sending on their way. It seems odd to state this about a book, but each page is gently written. There is no judgement, no special must buy items to help further your life, just lots of encouragement. In the chapter about personal items, the author says, "By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process your past." How many of us have those old letters from past lovers, saved emails that are cruel? Kondo says let them go. In another chapter, she says "to truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose."

The author ends the book with a wish that everyone who reads or follows her method "be able to experience the joy and contentment of living surrounded by the things they love." It is a lovely sentiment that is deeply present on each page of this guide. This book is a must read for everyone.

(Photo Credit-Amazon)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday Snippets: I'm tired

I'm tired of reading of another black person shot by police, another trans* person murdered, another woman ignored in death.

Fucking stop it, goddammit.

Fucked up

Why Protestors Turn Violent

When you saw "The Hunger Games," who did you root for? Katniss and her beleaguered community? Or people in the Capitol wearing pink eyelashes and obliviously eating until they vomited while the people in other districts starved? I'm going to assume the former because the movie makes it clear: The government is oppressing the people in District Twelve, and we are supposed to cheer for them as they attempt to overthrow a structure that is unfair to them.

Ok, next question: When you saw the protests in Baltimore, who did you feel for? Because if what you did was look down on the protestors for disturbing the peace, break out the rainbow wigs and sparkle mascara because you might be from the Capitol.

Huh, what a notion

School to prison pipeline facts

Cool shots over Lake Michigan

Horrifying (TW)

"Where’s all the anti-choice, I mean, “”pro-life”“ activists"

#SayHerName

“On May 20, 2015 the African American Policy Forum, the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia University and Andrea Ritchie, Soros Justice Fellow and expert on policing of women and LGBT people of color released #SayHerName: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women, a document highlighting stories of Black women who have been killed by police and shining a light on forms of police brutality often experienced by women such as sexual assault.” Please Read this Important Report: http://bit.ly/1cR27AO via AAPF

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Adventures in Homeownership: Reseal the Deck or just get covered in red paint

The last time I posted a house update, it was February. Time becomes an abstract concept when you plan a vow renewal and then dive into a work conference that results in 17 hour days.

But the husband and I realized we needed to reseal and clean up the deck. We hadn't done anything to it since moving in nearly three years ago and it sat, unloved for nearly three years before that.

 

 


This is what it looked like, after we'd taken the trash cans/tables/etc off.

We then took a long handled scrub brush and plain water and scrubbed to our heart's content. The stuff that came off was green and smelled. I was glad to bid it adeu.


(another angle, pre-cleaning)


The husband, scrubbing. We continued cleaning Friday night until 9:30 or so.


Behr was offering rebates this weekend and had the color we wanted.


We chose Barn Red and it came out a lot brighter than was pictured in store, but we'll see if it ages nicely in the next month or so. We have a semi-transparent (the red was solid) light brown we can brush over it, too.


And this is Sunday, after it dried overnight. We painted the benches and the lower step, seen in the center right, with older stains we had on-hand. The wood feels so much better and while some spots will need replacing or touch up, I feel much better about the heat of the summer doing its worst to the deck.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Snippets: Three Day Weekend Cometh

And I'm very stoked for it.

I think about this all the time

And for the man in the back, fuck you too

According to Loeb, Vergara refuses to relinquish possession of the embryos. “These are issues that, unlike abortion, having nothing to do with the rights over one’s own body, and everything to do with a parent’s right to protect the life of his or her unborn child,” he wrote in an op-ed published by the New York Times.

#Dontrell Stephens 

Exclusively-obtained dash-cam video shows Dontrell Stephens, 20, talking on a cellphone while riding his bike on a Friday morning in September 2013. He can be seen turning onto Norma Elaine Road near Haverhill Road and Okeechobee Boulevard as PBSO deputy Adams Lin trails him. Moments later, Stephens realizes he’s being followed. He pulls over, gets off his bike with a cellphone in his right hand. And then, right there, Officer Lin begins to unload his gun into Dontrell Stephens. With nowhere to go, he gets shot in the back over and over and over again. Immediately, Officer Lin lies and says that he told Dontrell to get on the ground multiple times, but nothing of the sort happened.

The Larger Problem in Baltimore

Imagine that, cops non-violently disarming a situation

What a wonderful thought

This happened right up the road from me

The few media reports on Hall's death have been tinged with transphobia, with a Washington Post article continuing to describe Hall and Fleming as "men dressed as women," a revelation which it referred to as a "shocking twist." The Post also described the street scene where Hall and Fleming worked as a "choreography of cliches," focusing on the high heels, short shorts, and heavy makeup of the women.

In contrast to the outrage that the deaths of black men like Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and Gray have prompted on social media, there has been very little attention given to Hall's death. As a black trans sex worker, she and Fleming have been written off as "troubled." On Tumblr and Reddit, platforms that are usually supportive of transgender victims of violence and black victims of police brutality, Mya Hall's name is notably absent.


Yup

Violence may be wrong, but the powerful are given permission to use it, and the powerless are condemned when they fight back.


In what could be an exciting linguistic turn for trans and gender-nonconforming folks, the Oxford English Dictionary is considering adding the gender-neutral honorific Mx. to future editions.

Pronounced “mix” or “mux,” the term has been gaining mainstream traction in the U.K. in the last several years. According toBritish newspaper The Sunday Times, government departments, the postal service, and some universities and banks all accept the term on official forms.