Sunday, May 20, 2018

Quick Sunday roundup

When criticism of Israel is and isn't anti-semitic.

Tolentino on entitled men.

This thread on why JP doesn't get lobster sex.

I'm disappointed in Julia Ioffe.

Givhan on the royal wedding dress: it serves the woman wearing it.

I get that the world isn't perfect and there's racism and classicism in the UK, but take the win. The wins. Watch the racists' heads explode. Watch the royal family, which shies away from opinions, tout HRH's feminist credentials.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Saturday roundup

How the parties swapped positions on civil rights.

Marx's home town is honoring him (but not his ideas or the tragedies that they wrought) with a massive statue.

People who create problems--not those who refuse to accommodate them--are responsible for those problems.

I enjoyed "Isle of Dogs" but also found it objectively problematic. This sums that up well, but this is also an important take.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday roundup

How to survive a chemical attack.

There are some rough but beautiful photos among the winners of the World Press Photo Contest.

This article about the glut of men in China and India is tragic but also fascinating in the stereotypes it quotes about women (or men) from other countries:
Russian women... are the most sought-after brides, prized for their fair skin and European features. They are seen as educated but accessible, less emancipated than Western women. 
Vietnamese women are seen as less “demanding” than some Chinese women and more focused on traditional family values. They are also sought after for their fair skin, their big eyes and slim waists, Grillot says. They in turn often prefer Chinese husbands to their own compatriots, not just for their wallets, but because they are seen as hard-working and family-focused.
Yeah, we know some of our people are awful; don't take your anti-Russian sentiment on Russians just minding their own business.

Captain Shults is better referred to as a pilot, not a lady pilot.

If you're on Facebook, you should be very concerned about how they collect data.

You should absolutely recycle.

On gaslighting and owning your emotions. That column means a lot to me, because both my mother and RM tried to gaslight me into thinking my need for space was invalid, even inhuman. This so invokes RM: could it be sweet to do something repeatedly for someone that you know irritates that person? So, yes, if he continues after you’ve clearly asked him not to, then that crosses the line into gaslighting and/or controlling behavior.
Part of Carolyn's response reminds me more of relationships I've been in: it's about finding ways to "meet the other’s needs while still being true to themselves," which entails that "each of you identifies your emotional needs and owns them, instead of writing them off as ungrateful or rat-b---hy or whatever else" and "Respect for each other, and thereby not dismissing, ignoring or trying to change the other’s emotional needs." 

When Petri's good, she's really good:
“I must let America see what she has become. I call her “she” because I feel she owes me her silence and acquiescence; she is something to be talked about, not to...”
Same with Max Fisher. An amazing thread on really wrong maps.

Look at this sweet couple.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

I call it passive mansplaining

Last night, my father made reference to DC being much warmer than Boston, just as he has periodically over the 15+ years that I've lived here, even though--every time--I let him know that DC really isn't much warmer. I'm sure I've told you about this before, and in any case you can check out the thread, so I'm going to go on to Other Dudes Who Do This. But before that, I can think of many examples where dad does it all the time: I tell him something will go bad if he doesn't put it in the fridge; it goes bad and he is surprised. And now, onto the other dudes.

There was, of course, RM, who just couldn't or wouldn't understand that I wasn't on an "eating plan"--that I planned out my meals for the week so that I could prepare them. As someone who never cooked for himself and also thought I was obsessed with nutrition--such that every food decision I made was nutrition-based--no amount of telling him otherwise would convince him.

While we're on the topic of food and nutrition: there are a number of people who don't buy the 'ethical vegan' thing. They think I'm making the ethical thing up but-really-I'm-just-dieting. They betray this in a number of ways, usually by questioning my food choices ("wouldn't it be healthier to have a salad rather than a veggie burger?" which is a question too inane for me to dignify with an answer). Women do this one a lot, even though I originally conceived this post out of my experiences with dudes pulling most of this shit.

There was the guy (the worst date ever) who didn't hear or believe me when I told him I was not interested in having dinner with him.

There was the guy at a party who, upon learning that my family had immigrated from the Soviet Union in 1980, insisted repeatedly that we must have been very powerful and well-connected to get out at that time. Now, not everyone has to be familiar with Jackson-Vanik but FFS when someone tries to explain it to you, believe them.

Too many others to write about, the most egregious are up there.

Sunday roundup

I am not linking to stories or images of Syrian kids being gassed (but Syrian kids are being gassed).

Don't watch Roseanne.

We can't afford it as a society.

The Onion sadly nails it.

WTF, Michigan?

Women are conditioned to minimize other people's discomfort at the expense of their own safety. Men are conditioned to think they're geniuses. Also, men test the waters before escalating, and women have an uncanny sixth sense for unwanted attention (so don't tell us we're exaggerating or imagining things).

The 'describe yourself as a male author would' entries are priceless. I know the "where are you really from" dudes well.

Every tweet in this thread:

Men who cheat sure do justify it to themselves.

What these husbands couldn’t do was have the difficult discussion with their wives that would force them to tackle the issues at the root of their cheating. They tried to convince me they were being kind by keeping their affairs secret. They seemed to have convinced themselves. But deception and lying are ultimately corrosive, not kind.
In the end, I had to wonder if what these men couldn’t face was something else altogether: hearing why their wives no longer wanted to have sex with them. It’s much easier, after all, to set up an account on Tinder.
Vikings may have used crystals for navigation.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Friday roundup

I didn't know about the Freedom Seder.

Klein on Murray on race.

The Onion nails it.

Roxane Gay on Roseanne Barr. See also,

This, on feminism.
“If our movement is not serious about building power,” Garza explains, “then we are just engaged in a futile exercise of who can be the most radical.”
Dairy means dead animals.

These poor, unfortunately named people.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tuesday roundup (brought to you by my cold)

On Stephon Clark and Anthony Stephan House, both of whom should be alive today.
RIP Linda Brown (and her father). And Blois Hundley.

This girl is phenomenal.

Read this whole thread about gun control.

A tweet in a thread about satellite marches.

Dude wakes up to anti-Semitism in America, writes a book that assumes everyone else was asleep as well. The book, nonetheless, appears worth reading.

On science.

I have such a problem with fetishizing all things Soviet, and this piece kind-of gets to that. Beauty and fashion can be either chore or release or some combination (see the Sady Doyle piece I linked to a few weeks ago on skincare). I will say this: I've been to some extremely poor places where very poor women take enormous pride in their dress. Clothing is one way to express individuality; individuality and Sovietism are natural enemies. Also, it's flaunting privilege to look like shit and get away with it.

All-male panels are far too common, but Stanford's Hoover Institution truly outdid itself.

Mean Girls aren't really a thing.

The Pacific garbage patch is out of control.

Eat plants, help feed people. And no, you don't need to drink milk.

Mmm, pho.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Wednesday Snow Day Roundup

Trayon White's apology is a good one.

Massive Poultry is exploiting Small Business loans. And killing millions of fish.

Stanford had an all-male conference.

The Times is better late than never with obituaries of extraordinary women.

Mixed feelings about the inspiring Barbies (not just the absurd Frida Kahlo one), but in this day and age when Old Navy still only markets NASA shirts to men, I guess I'll take the win.

Sady Doyle's thread on women getting ahead in "problematic" professions.

Here's another:

The first tweet in my thread about when appearance matters on stage (and in movies).
If this isn't every other dude trying to date in DC...

You shouldn't need gimmicks to refrain from taking your relationship for granted.

John Oliver is a national treasure, and I'm so glad his book is doing well.

I love the story about the girl who snapped her retainer over Michael B. Jordan.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Friday roundup

Poland is emboldened in bullshit because it's gotten away with it for too long.

An Afghan refugee plots about giving back.

How do you watch old movies and TV with freshly woke eyes? Or, the Donna Problem.

The Donna Problem is that it would be easy to excuse her interactions with Josh because he’s a lovable goof who doesn’t mean any harm. Their relationship is played as sweet. We’re supposed to root for him.

Except that excusing powerful men because they didn’t mean any harm is exactly how we got in this situation. Realizing that powerful men were getting away with things — getting our new glasses prescription, to use Lippman’s metaphor — is exactly why we have a Donna Problem.

Nothing in the Donna-Josh relationship is overtly bad. But it’s a little bad. We can no longer ignore that a lot of little-bad things together are what normalize a toxic culture.
Use coral-friendly sunscreen.
Screening sunscreen for environmental friendliness requires getting familiar with chemicals including oxybenzone, octinoxate and methyl paraben. Haereticus Environmental Lab publishes a list of chemicals to avoid. Mineral sunblocks including zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that are “non-nano” in size are considered safe. Formulations below 100 nanometers are considered nano and can be ingested by corals.
Watch Surya Bonaly's mind-blowing illegal backflip.

Read this phenomenal thread about The Book Lady, aka inimitable Dolly Parton.

Watch Wayne Brady's awesome interview.

Look at this Turkish classroom cat.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday roundup

What an AR-15 does.

Twitter has many examples of why arming teachers is a terrible idea. Here's a couple of threads.

This article perfectly and comprehensively sums up every angle of the 'perpetual foreigner' issue I talked about last week. Pair with this piece about who gets to be an immigrant. Model-minoritying isn't good, even if it's better than this:

See also: my thread.

I also made a thread about the myth of the endearing man-child.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday roundup

Poland isn't fooling anyone with its attempts at revisionist history.

The students who survived the Parkland school massacre are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore. They give me hope for the future of our country.

Aly Raisman takes back her body, leading to mass confusion among idiots.

The latest in the ruthenium mystery. Meanwhile, we have a new uranium mystery.

I'm not going to link to that horrid thinkpiece in the Times about yoga pants being bad for women, even though I agree with what the author was maybe trying to say: there's no need to spend on high-end workout clothes; go to the gym for you. But she ended up conveying the opposite message: yoga pants are unflattering, so don't wear them. So now our workout appearance is up for scrutiny? We are at the gym for other people's consumption? Here's a much better perspective on that whole issue, from a few weeks back when we were having the same debate over skin care. If it makes you feel better, do it; if it's a drag, don't.

Here are a few good pieces on meditation. What these two have in common is the idea that it's about practice, and it's about managing your emotional response (not quashing it). And that it's to fight our naturally-selected penchant for anxiety.

I love Adam Rippon.

Look at this little animal whisperer.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Saturday roundup

Mayanmar's regime is still awful.

What we say (and don't say) about human rights, matters.

Evo Morales brought many out of extreme poverty but shouldn't be president-for-life.

Can technology reduce deforestation?

Why are we horrified at the mistreatment of only some animals?
The law says that when an animal is in serious problems, you should help the animals, but in the factory farming there are about six million pigs dying every year without veterinarian support,” said Hans Baaij, the director of Dier en Recht, a small nongovernmental organization that aims to use the court system to get the government to precisely define what constitutes animal abuse.
On sexual harassment in agriculture.

Before you read the next few excerpts (or linked articles), read this whole thread.
What in the unholy hell is "unwanted conduct of a sexual nature"? This is an abomination. We can start talking about Me Too going too far (see below) when victims aren't the ones made to transfer schools and perpetrators aren't slapped on the wrist.

Laurie Penny on the Me-Too backlash.
Alright, ladies, you’ve had your fun, and you’ve given us all a fright — but that’s enough now. If we relegate this all-out revolt against male sexual entitlement to the kitchen shelf where it belongs, everyone would be a lot more comfortable — at least, the men in the room would be, and we all know that’s what really matters.
And Lili Loofbourow on the price of 'bad sex' and socializing women to be the nice girl.
Women are constantly and specifically trained out of noticing or responding to their bodily discomfort, particularly if they want to be sexually "viable." Have you looked at how women are "supposed" to present themselves as sexually attractive? High heels? Trainers? Spanx? These are things designed to wrench bodies. Men can be appealing in comfy clothes. They walk in shoes that don't shorten their Achilles tendons. They don't need to get the hair ripped off their genitals or take needles to the face to be perceived as "conventionally" attractive. They can — just as women can — opt out of all this, but the baseline expectations are simply different, and it's ludicrous to pretend they aren't.
The old implied social bargain between women and men (which Andrew Sullivan calls "natural") is that one side will endure a great deal of discomfort and pain for the other's pleasure and delight. And we've all agreed to act like that's normal, and just how the world works. 
Pair with Mona Eltahawy's piece on (instead) teaching girls to honor their rage.

And here we transition from phenomenal women slamming men who mansplain sexual assault, to phenomenal women slamming men who mansplain abortion.

See also Jia Tolentino's interview with someone who went through it.

This breaks my heart.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

In which I ramble about my day and other things

But first, some context.

I probably have an over-associative mind. Everything reminds me of something else. Every place reminds me of the last time I was there. Every time of year makes me think about what was going on a year before.

This time last year, I was dating a dude and preparing to transition to a temporary gig. I was on the cusp of knowing the relationship was doomed; there was still room for hope, but also some concerns. Enough that I wasn't willing to leave stuff at his place--which was right near my then-office and not too far from my new one--between offices.

So now I have a week to go before I transition back to my old office. I was too busy at work to think about it--and too busy to gradually move any stuff back--but to be honest I thought it about it the whole time I've been there. Every time I crossed an iconic building, above or underground, I thought about how fleeting it was to *work* there. Every time I was either mistaken for an intern or addressed with disproportionate deference, I thought about how fleeting it was to be in this bananas mixing bowl of power dynamics. 

But it was Friday night as I left work that it hit me that I was down to a week. A very busy week, and not without Even More Drama than usual. But as I walked the tunnels to the metro, it fully hit me that I was down to a week. And even though I'm 90 percent ready to go back, I'm really going to miss everyone. And a lot of things. The sense of opposite-of-nostalgia was overwhelming. It stayed with me throughout the evening, and I woke up with it.

Saturday roundup

When the Times does not suck, it does not suck; and this is a good take on Qatar.

If I may say so, this is, overall, a very good take on the nuclear posture review.

And this is a very good take on how there is no "limited strike" on North Korea. Key excerpt:
Unfortunately, the tactical advantages of American stealth and surprise don’t produce a crystal-clear situational awareness and understanding of American intent for our adversaries. Wartime surprise does what it’s supposed to do: confuses and overwhelms the adversary. That surprise is intended to so discombobulate an opponent that they can’t formulate an effective response until it’s all over. But if you’re trying to prevent further escalation, confusion is exactly what you’re trying to avoid on the other side.
There is severe poverty in the United States.
Conversion "therapy" is evil.

On the amazing Judge Aquilina and how needed she is in a nation that refuses to listen to women.

I'm glad people are getting more involved and even running for office, but given how bad presidents can get, we need politicians to be more, not less, professional.

This man thinks that the main lesson from Hillary's defeat is that women belong in the kitchen, but a better take is that her candidacy was transformative. As the article says, "Look at all the breakthroughs women have made in the last century, and you’ll notice how many of them involved just making their presence in some new place seem matter of fact."

Look at photos from last weekend's second-anniversary women's march. Have no qualms about the lack of endorsement from the very problematic Linda Sarsour.

Enjoy some fine-art level trolling from the Guggenheim.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sunday roundup

Stalinism isn't here yet, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't put our guard up.

Yes, migrants commit crimes, too (though less so than non-migrants). Yes, optics matter; yes, it is a tragedy for Mia and her family. Is retaliating against migrants as a group a proportionate response? Or could we focus on why the threats and stalking weren't taken seriously? And promote cultural assimilation, to include making toxic masculinity a no-no.

Bret Stephens is so wrong overall that I hate to link to him even when he's right--even a broken clock--but this time, he's really right.

The new Kazakh alphabet doesn't really work.

If there has to be a split and the Women's March isn't interested in elections, I'm team March On.

How'd I miss this post from the woman who made Batali's pizza rolls?
Good baking requires an attention to detail and care that is hard to muster when you just don’t give a shit or you are distracted by your own rage.
It's official: women aren't allowed to be angry.
A 2016 study found that it took longer for people to correctly identify the gender of female faces displaying an angry expression, as if the emotion had wandered out of its natural habitat by finding its way to their features. A 1990 study conducted by the psychologists Ulf Dimberg and L.O. Lundquist found that when female faces are recognized as angry, their expressions are rated as more hostile than comparable expressions on the faces of men — as if their violation of social expectations had already made their anger seem more extreme, increasing its volume beyond what could be tolerated.
In “What Happened,” her account of the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton describes the pressure not to come across as angry during the course of her entire political career — “a lot of people recoil from an angry woman,” she writes — as well as her own desire not to be consumed by anger after she lost the race, “so that the rest of my life wouldn’t be spent like Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’s ‘Great Expectations,’ rattling around my house obsessing over what might have been.” The specter of Dickens’s ranting spinster — spurned and embittered in her crumbling wedding dress, plotting her elaborate revenge — casts a long shadow over every woman who dares to get mad.
If an angry woman makes people uneasy, then her more palatable counterpart, the sad woman, summons sympathy more readily. She often looks beautiful in her suffering: ennobled, transfigured, elegant. Angry women are messier. Their pain threatens to cause more collateral damage. It’s as if the prospect of a woman’s anger harming other people threatens to rob her of the social capital she has gained by being wronged. We are most comfortable with female anger when it promises to regulate itself, to refrain from recklessness, to stay civilized.
There are many awful takes on Aziz Ansari out there. Here are some quite good ones.

I'm worn out, but remind me to write about "Lady Bird" sometime in the next week.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday ramble

I stumbled upon this article on how to handle unsolicited advice just as I was feeling guilty about being annoyed at my father's being himself. Most people dislike unsolicited advice most of the time (the author notes that there are exceptions), and--the author also notes--that even if the advisor is really just thinking out loud, it usually comes off as if (s)he thinks you're stupid. Did the people suggesting she get a passport (when she told them she was going to Europe) think she didn't know that? If they did, was it because they wouldn't have known that, or did they think that she, specifically, was clueless?

There are a lot of reasons that advice grates, one being that sometimes--most of the time--we just want people to listen. I tend to frame advice in the context of, 'this worked out well for me, don't know if this was already on your radar' or something similar. If anything, I tend to err on the side of assuming that people know things, where a suggestion might be helpful. But there is something super-galling about advice that presumes a greater-than-average level of ignorance.

And yet! Why should I care that, say, some random person on the street thinks I'm stupid? As the author said, if you want to change behavior, nodding or saying something generic won't get you there. I think with randos I do tend to smile and nod and whatever. But I digress. I was thinking about why my father's various antics so irked me. And, as with not appreciating it when someone presumes you're stupid, I don't appreciate it when my father implies that he's not impressed with how I'm living my life.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Saturday roundup (brought to you by my frozen car battery)

Ukraine is a gangster state.

In Nepal, a young girl died sleeping outside because she was menstruating.

A Maasai woman stood her ground and improved thousands of lives
Finally, after nearly four years of dialogue, the elders in her village changed hundreds of years of culture and abandoned cutting. She had persuaded the men, and with them the village, that everyone would be healthier and wealthier if girls stayed in school, married later and gave birth without the complications cutting can create. 
Ms. Leng’ete — whose neighbors wouldn’t speak to her because she wasn’t cut — became the first woman in history to address the elders at the mountain.
In 2014, they changed the centuries-old oral constitution that rules over 1.5 million Maasai in Kenya and in Tanzania, and formally abandoned female genital cutting. 
In pushing to overturn a cultural commandment, she found that her own cultural pride was her strongest argument.
Here are some wise words about Poland from my former professor.

Will Modi try to cover for his mistakes by fomenting ethnic tensions?

Without an American security guarantee, the freedom-loving people of the Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — would almost certainly be gobbled up by the authoritarian Russians. These Eastern European countries were occupied by the Soviets until the end of the Cold War, and they’ve lived in fear of Russian invasions since Peter the Great. To guard against their annexation, they were invited to join NATO in 2004. 
In a chilling story that posted overnight, two former administration officials tell the Daily Beast that a senior National Security Council official proposed withdrawing some U.S. military forces from Eastern Europe as an overture to Vladimir Putin during the early days of the Trump presidency. “While the proposal was ultimately not adopted, it is the first known case of senior aides to [Trump] seeking to reposition U.S. military forces to please Putin — something that smelled, to a colleague, like a return on Russia’s election-time investment,” Spencer Ackerman reports.
Here are some things that actually improve border security.

Two of the best responses to failed Ann Coulter:

How international papers covered 'shithole.'

This thread!

Milbank on Animal Farm.

I'd watch a gorilla channel.

Nursing homes can be very shady.

The Oprah for president moment is OBE, but this is an important point.

I live near a McDonald's and have to pick up trash all the time.
In denser living, a trash dump or a park next door affects the value of your parcel.
The sexual revolution made a vast number of previously unavailable sexual choices available. But it took place in a society that struggles to agree on what freedom actually means. And without a consensus on what constitutes a free choice, sexuality is bound to remain a domain wherein the powerful are able to exploit the less powerful — and call that freedom — even in a putatively liberated world. 
Quoting Hobbes, then 
In other words, calamitous circumstances don’t diminish a person’s ability to choose freely ; they just change the available choices. In this mind-set, non-physical coercion may not be decent or seemly, but it doesn’t invalidate the freedom of the choice that follows. 
Moira Donegan speaks revolutionary basic truths.
The spreadsheet was intended to circumvent all of this. Anonymous, it would protect its users from retaliation: No one could be fired, harassed, or publicly smeared for telling her story when that story was not attached to her name. Open-sourced, it would theoretically be accessible to women who didn’t have the professional or social cachet required for admittance into whisper networks. The spreadsheet did not ask how women responded to men’s inappropriate behavior; it did not ask what you were wearing or whether you’d had anything to drink. Instead, the spreadsheet made a presumption that is still seen as radical: That it is men, not women, who are responsible for men’s sexual misconduct.
This Ask Polly is long and I wanted to excerpt but there's too much that's too good.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Saturday ramble

I've been watching the horrendous "Iron Fist" just to round out the Defenders universe (I have to wait until March for more Jessica Jones); I was horrified--but shouldn't have been surprised, given the show's consistently, stupidly horrendous handling of racial issues--by the show's discussion of meditation. Danny describes meditation as a route to turn off feelings; weapons don't have feelings, he adds. Fair enough about the last part, I guess, but the show is perpetuating a harmful myth about meditation. Meditation doesn't turn off your feelings; it trains you to manage them.

Watch the second half of Trevor Noah's interview with Dan Harris and read this article--not specifically about mediation--about working with, not against, your mind. I've been listening regularly to guided meditations on an app I got through work--the work program also included live sessions, though I could only attend a few--and between those, and sessions I've attended in the past, the overarching theme is that it's human to wander, and that you don't beat yourself up for being human. Mediation is hard enough for people to make time for, without people making it harder by spreading misinformation. Like that awful Times op-ed that I didn't link to here.

I've been much better about meditating, and the difference is noticeable. On Wednesday as we were stuck in crawling traffic on the way to the airport, I should have been a wreck. I didn't anticipate traffic (I specifically booked a flight late enough that we wouldn't be driving in rush hour) and didn't allow a ton of time. I had a meeting that afternoon that I really needed to be at (it was scheduled after I'd booked my ticket), and I'd brought a suit with me as superstition/insurance: if I had a suit with me in the unlikely event that we landed in time for me to make the meeting straight from the airport, I wouldn't need it; I'd arrive in plenty of time to get home, unpack, and head to work.

Quick Saturday roundup

Rest in peace, John Young.

It should be no secret or surprise that Woody Allen is creepy AF.

It's true that some people are more used to the cold, but DC gets hit hard so shut the f* up.

The Flash would do better to eat plants.

"Thou," "yea," and "nay" meant more than their present-day synonyms.

On Twitter, men even mansplain to men
And of course to women

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Tuesday ramble

I've rambled (here (with wisdom from others), here, and here) about realizing--while in or just out of a relationship in which I was happy--that being in a relationship is nonetheless not magic. When I've been in a relationship that's started to go downhill, or even on a date that's going nowhere, I've thought about how deceptive it is to walk down the street with someone and appear to the world as a functioning couple. I remind myself of that every time I get the sense, walking down the street, that everyone else seems to be in a seamless, functioning relationship. I wonder about the experts--bartenders, waitstaff, others--who must develop a sense of who's a happy couple, who's an unhappy couple, who's on a good date, and who's on a bad date. I think about how often people have assumed I was partnered with someone I was just traveling with, especially a gay someone. I did, after all, earn the moniker 'Mrs. Jason' in India. And a number of people, looking at my photos, asked whether Alex and I were a couple. In their defense, we do look awfully couple-like in many of those photos, but Alex is also very, very gay. At the highest level of wondering, I wonder whether people think 'I wonder if she knows that her boyfriend/husband is gay.'

Apparently, many women wonder whether their significant other is gay (according to Google), when they should be wondering (according to experts) whether their significant other is depressed, or an alcoholic. It does prick a hole in the 'everyone else is in a perfect relationship' bubble--it's not that I find satisfaction in the problems in other people's relationships; but there is something comforting about idyllic appearances being deceiving. Relationships are complicated; snapshots are misleading. It's comforting even to consider--this is the opposite of schadenfreude--that fraught relationships bring their joys or whatever. I guess what's comforting is escaping the perception that it's so easy for everyone else (and its corollary: what's wrong with me, then?).

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