Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Balkans: how we planned (and executed)

About this time last year, high off of my Peru trip and looking forward to South Africa, I vowed not let too much time pass before my next adventure. I asked Jay whether he'd be up for a trip to the Balkans, and he was. On the way back from South Africa in August, Alex asked me where I'd go next, and expressed interest, when I said 'the Balkans,' in joining. I checked with Jay, who was of the 'the more the merrier' persuasion, and also invited my friend K, who was (is) living in the Netherlands to join us. I extended the invitation to significant others, and Steve (Alex's, with whom I travelled to South Africa as well) joined up. I threw together an outline of an itinerary, and we all asked our respective friends for suggestions. I originally wanted to go for three weeks (you saw how much territory we covered!), but no one else was up for that so I whittled down the itinerary to just over two, which actually turned out to be about right. Which is not to say we covered everything we wanted to; I'd go back and see the Albanian riviera to the south, the national parks in northern Montenegro, and more of the lakes/waterfalls district in northern Croatia.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Great Balkans Adventure of 2017: Prologue and photos

We did it! We pulled off the Great Balkans Adventure of 2017!

Five countries, five people (for a week; then three for the next week), four currencies, and one very involved spreadsheet to guide our journey through numerous walled cities, mountains, seashores, lakes, and caves.

We flew into Tirana; took a bus to Kotor and another to Dubrovnik; hired a driver to take us to Orebic, from which we ferried to Korcula; from which we ferried to Split; from which two of us (not me) ferried to Italy and the other three (including me) drove drove to Sarajevo by way of Mostar; from Sarajevo, we (though I did not partake in the driving) drove to Zadar and then to Plitvice; and from there to Bled by way of Postojna; from there, to Zagreb by way of Ljubljana; and from Zagreb we flew to our respective homes. This map mostly captures it but not quite (we exceeded the number of stops Google Maps allows for).

Friday roundup

Were you wondering about Qatar? Or about NATO?
Richest country in the world...
In Iola, community workers talk of tragedies that could have easily been prevented.
Holly Jerome, a director at the Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center, spoke about a patient who lost a leg to diabetes and a disabled drug addict who couldn't go back to work because his insurance wouldn't cover a nonaddictive pain medication. Angela Henry, project director of the community organization Safe Base, told of a 13-year-old girl who lost part of her jaw when her parents couldn’t pay to finish a dental operation, and the packing pellets a dentist put in her tooth rotted.
Money and whiteness buys man relative impunity even in the rare case where he's prosecuted; woman's life is upended.
Eat plants.

Two perspectives (Roxane Gay's, indirectly, and Lindy West's, via the Goop festival) on fatness.

Kids need limits.

How you handle and discourage unwanted gifts depends on the relationship.

Karma can be a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Everglades and Little Havana

I'll tell you more about this trip later but wanted to share some random pictures in reverse order. The alligators are rescues and not harmed.

Tuesday roundup

This was supposed to be Monday roundup but my laptop.

If you can find North Korea on a map, you're not so into the idea of a military solution.

I'd like to talk more about legal immigrants' disdain for illegal immigration. It's not--as sometimes dismissed--'I'm in now close the door' or even 'I struggled now you struggle.' There's some legitimacy to the sentiment and also nuance.

This was a week or two ago:

I asked Jerry Taylor, the president of the Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank, if he had ever seen so much skepticism so early in a Presidency. “No, nobody has,” he said. “But we’ve never lived in a Third World banana republic. I don’t mean that gratuitously. I mean the reality is he is governing as if he is the President of a Third World country: power is held by family and incompetent loyalists whose main calling card is the fact that Donald Trump can trust them, not whether they have any expertise.” 
Carolyn's chat has some good stuff, especially this piece on accepting your kid's vegetarianism (hint: it's about more than food). I think most of us are turned off intuitively by the idea of eating animals and are socialized into it.

Ah, Dovegate. Specifically, Dove's new body-shaped bottles lead to backlash.

Women get fat-shamed and fit-shamed.

I'll let you google Avocado Toast gate yourselves. I didn't know that was a thing until yesterday (although I have put avocado on toast). I've not ordered it at a restaurant, which is maybe why I have a house (just kidding).

There were many good (bad) reviews of IT's new book. Here's one.
Goodness knows America doesn’t love a woman who tries too hard: Look at the response to Hillary Clinton, the ultimate striver. What we do appreciate, however, is a hint of hard work. There’s an understanding that a person should have to put in at least a modicum of effort to get — and stay —  in a position above ours. President Trump’s original appeal stemmed in large part from his purported bootstrapping to business success. And much of Ivanka Trump’s promise lay in the way that, although a child of privilege, she seemed willing to work hard and maybe even make a difference for others.
Ladybug oragami wings and cute interspecies moms!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday roundup

Tunisia's remarkable truth and reconciliation process.

The story of the Carl Vinson debacle.

George Takei urges us to remember internment.

About that Agreed Framework.

Beware of respectable-looking kleptocracies.

Some women play at self-oppression, but it's less fun to live it. See also.

Reproductive rights are an economic issue.

C'mon, people.
Does Germany have an arrogance problem?

This thread on electronics, absolescence, and the human/environmental cost.

Look at pictures of the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

Don't get too excited about fusion reactors.

If science is to have spokespeople, there needs to be more than one.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Saturday roundup

Strength and education do not immunize one from abuse.

Gotta love the all-male panel.

On the artificial distinctions we make:
And yet, the process of constructing norms — however imperfect — is, by and large, how human beings have chosen to deal with the fact that states continue to settle disputes with violence. As our technological capacity to wreak destruction has grown from machine guns to poison gas to nuclear weapons, more than a few people have observed that our species’ tendency to resort to violence may be our undoing. Eliminating war, though, seems unlikely. And so, falling short of that lofty goal, we try to prohibit the worst weapons — those that cause unnecessary or gruesome suffering and, most important, those that do not discriminate among combatants and noncombatants. If our lines are imperfect, we know they are better than no lines at all. If our restrictions are too narrow, we believe that others will come along who will try to broaden them.
Prince Harry's greatest act of public service.

FFS, women can show up however we like and still be women.

Want to do your part to help the planet? Cut back on meat.

Every pig deserves a life like this one.

Airline workers, no longer taught to deescalate, more commonly choose to handle customer service issues with security solutions.

This absolute-zero-to-absolute-hot infographic is phenomenal.

On words.
So great was the hue and cry that a competing dictionary, the American Heritage Dictionary, was created to wrest the language out of the debasing hands of the longhaired pinkos at Merriam.
How the moon determines when Easter is. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday roundup

Fantastic column on spicergate.

In the former Soviet Union, there was misinformation everywhere but people knew what was going on.
This was self-consciously an attempt to create a valid and verifiable news source. The Chronicle demanded that its contributors be “careful and accurate” with any information they passed along and even ran regular corrections to previous items (pioneering a practice some Western media organizations only adopted years later). As the scholar of Soviet dissidence Peter Reddaway, writing in 1972, put it, “the Chronicle’s aim is openness, non-secretiveness, freedom of information and expression. All these notions are subsumed in the one Russian word, glasnost.”
Superbugs, brought to you by the pork industry.

Sunday's assault was not United's first rodeo. Here are some collected responses to the incident.

I love this, from the man who gave us lithium-ion batteries.
When I asked him about his late-life success, he said: “Some of us are turtles; we crawl and struggle along, and we haven’t maybe figured it out by the time we’re 30. But the turtles have to keep on walking.” This crawl through life can be advantageous, he pointed out, particularly if you meander around through different fields, picking up clues as you go along. Dr. Goodenough started in physics and hopped sideways into chemistry and materials science, while also keeping his eye on the social and political trends that could drive a green economy. “You have to draw on a fair amount of experience in order to be able to put ideas together,” he said.
Don't read that awful NY Post piece from the man who'll no longer date "hot women." It is unfortunately not satire but two excellent pieces of satire have emerged in response.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Setting an example

We've been commiserating about the impact of safetrack on out commutes, even those who drive and have seen a spike in traffic as those who would normally metro opt to drive instead. I've been cycling as much as I can, weather permitting, which is about 60 percent of the time, and generally I love it. I even love that safetrack has pushed me to bike on 'questionable' days (when my transit system is functioning, I'm very much a fair-weather biker). Some days are easier than others, and some parts of the ride are tough every day. Like the Hill. That Hill kicks my ass every time.

I was noting as much to a friend in the new/temporary office, and stopped myself before I added, 'but it's for the best; I need to be beach-ready by May.' I'm at least ten years older than this woman, and--not that she cares or is influenced by what I say--I didn't want to set a bad example. I didn't want to put it out there that anyone--especially someone at my level of fitness--wasn't ever beach-ready.

It's true that I'm hitting the beach two weekends in a row (and again a few weeks later). And it's true that I've put on weight (mostly by virtue of going to restaurants because I was dating a dude), and I'd be lying if it told you I didn't care at all. I gained enough weight that I can see it on my face, and in how my clothes fit. I'm not going to pretend I'm entirely unbothered. But I'm not going to casually muse, in front of young women, about being bothered; I'm not going to normalizing lamenting one's weight as if it's something that people do. I'm going to normalize feeling powerful in the powerful body that gets my ass up that hill in the morning.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday roundup

You've all read about the chemical weapons attack in Syria. I'm not linking to the interview with the man who lost his whole family. I can't do it. But you can read about the dilemmas doctors face.

On another horrific war note: a Sudanese boy separated from his family.

I love this quote from an article about the travel ban.
“In any other country, when the president wants something, he gets it,” Mr. Hakky added. “The fact that a lowly judge somewhere can basically stop the most powerful man on earth with a simple ruling is gratifying, and it shows what this country’s all about.”

Farmed salmon is really unsustainable.

I had a lot of reactions to this piece about Ariel Levy, which I mostly agree with, as shattered as we all were by Thanksgiving in Mongolia (I also agree with the overall message here, but I think it misses the point of the TNR piece). The idea that feminism sold Levy a bill of goods is harmful and counterproductive. (And yes, I'm annoyed by faux female empowerment ads, too; they're almost as annoying as ads with women cleaning).

Dude-bros shouldn't be trusted with startups.

I might have rioted had David Farenthold not won the Pulitzer Prize.'

Small breakups can hurt.

Of all the Pepsi ad hot takes, this was my favorite.

This man thought he had worms but they were bean sprouts.

The patient was called and gently but firmly informed of the diagnosis. Given the nature of the identified specimen, the information was presented in a nonjudgmental, respectful manner so as not to offend the sensibilities or sensitivities of the patient. The patient was informed that no treatment was necessary at this time and his anxieties and fears were allayed.
I also had a lot of reactions to this piece about immigrants and food. Including this part not about food:
James Baldwin wrote that American media is “designed not to trouble, but to reassure.” American movies and TV shows help sustain a fantasy of innocence that masks our country’s violence. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie referred to America’s “addiction to comfort”; Junot Díaz to our commitment to “narratives of consolation.” The soothing myth of American exceptionalism depends on maintaining its comfort and innocence, however false. 

And this part definitely about food.
The relationship between Americanness and consumption was a complicated one.
I’d hungrily devoured what I had believed to be American normalcy, but I was still being seen as American adjacent. Maybe there was no such thing as American normalcy; or maybe the normalcy was in itself a performance.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Saturday roundup--immigration edition

A powerful photoessay of stranded refugees in Niger.

Call your elected representatives and complain about the TSA, ICE, and CBP.

So I, needless to say, grew up among immigrants. Even once my family 'joined' the middle class--it was still a very immigrant-based middle class--the people McPherson describes here were very much part of my world.
That involved a lot of paperwork but not a lot of lines, and I am very glad to live in subsidized housing with a number of people who really run the gamut. One of them is the great-grandson of Leo Tolstoy. Another fled Bulgaria as the Communists were taking over, eventually came to the United States, speaks several languages, and worked for the Library of Congress. There are refugees from one regime or another, from all parts of the world. They come in all colors. Some were trained as lawyers, some have doctoral degrees, some were teachers. There are journalists and writers.
Now, immigrants are serving as much-needed EMTs in Maine. But some immigration officials have tried to deport neurosurgeons.

Yeah, I grew up during the Cold War and I've gotten 'are you a spy' cracks since childhood. They get old.

Being good at one thing--if you are even good at that one thing--doesn't make you good at everything else, and being good at business certainly doesn't make you good at government.

Yes, some women's issues are centered in the genitals that some of us have, and we mustn't dismiss those, but this is a solid argument for getting the movement out of the genitalia.

Dairy is as cruel as meat.

This takedown of Piers Morgan is delightful.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday roundup

A woman writes about her nazi grandmother.
My grandmother heard what she wanted from a leader who promised simple answers to complicated questions. She chose not to hear and see the monstrous sum those answers added up to. And she lived the rest of her life with the knowledge of her indefensible complicity.

But in her willingness to talk about a subject few members of her generation would, she taught me the vital importance of knowing better.
What is it about The Handmaid's Tale that so resonates today?

When it comes to jobs, there's quality as well as quantity.

On self-care via leisure.
When Charlotte Perkins Gilman experienced post-partum depression, her doctor prescribed the now-infamous “rest cure.” She was to “lie down an hour after each meal. Have but two hours’ intellectual life a day. And never touch pen, brush or pencil as long as you live.”

This prescription made Gilman so much worse that she began to talk of suicide. Eventually she separated from her husband, traveled, got better and wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper,” a story about the horrors of lying in bed all day. Virginia Woolf was also prescribed the rest cure, also hated it, and also went on to write about it in disparaging terms, in “Mrs. Dalloway.
This starts out okay:
It’s a tough moment to be a woman shopping for business attire.
But wait...
The store does not offer discounts or use promotions, which have practically become table stakes in the apparel business. Its $200 to $300 price tags are an invitation to middle-class cubicle warriors to change their mind-set about shopping, to scoop up investment pieces rather than constantly refreshing their wardrobes with cheaper goods.
Um, no, because:
Plus, even though many women say they are tired of poorly made clothes and are ready to shell out for higher quality, MM.LaFleur might find that’s a hard sell for others. We live in a time when consumers are splurging on experiences, when the idea of investing $250 in a dress may be a non-starter for a woman who thinks nothing of spending that kind of money on dinner.
 We make a difference by eating less meat. Also, cows know you're taking their babies away.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Really rambling ramble

My house is a mess, which is fine. Sometimes it’s not fine but right now it’s fine. You know I’m a big believer in decluttering and keeping things tidy. I believe that the external affects the internal, and a tidy space supports a clear mind. But I also believe in picking my battles, and I’ve come around to the idea that sometimes a mess doesn’t matter.

Years ago, there was a moment where I was equally busy and exhausted and my dining room table was a mess. I made a mess of a situation and associated the f* up with the messy dining room table. It served as a lesson to always keep the table clear, within reason. This week, I gave up, realizing that the table had nothing to do with anything. The table is a mess because my week is a mess, not the other day around.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday roundup

I probably experienced this in my last relationship, but to be fair to men I've also experienced it from women. We can all do better in trusting one another's feelings.

What's left of one man's life and apartment in Aleppo.

Beautiful story about refugees and chocolate. Canada is lucky to have them, and they, Canada.

Can you believe that (most of) the people of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio voted to keep their water dirty?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saturday ramble

It is that time of mood in which I reawaken my inner Outward Bounder and preach the spiritual benefits of physical exertion. Not the mental (and physical) health benefits--yes, everyone feels better when they exercise; rather, the spiritual benefits of challenging the shit out of yourself. I say this as someone who doesn't engage in badassery for the sake of it; I hike and bike because I enjoy it--because it's an efficient way to see beautiful things. In the case of cycling in particular, it's also a way of getting around.

Which is why I have not historically biked to work as often as I might. It's usually too easy not to, even when Metro is late and overcrowded. It just takes more initiative to get on the bike. That's changed a bit with my new/now job: cycling gets me there as fast as or faster than metro, and it's even more trails than streets. And yet, it's been easy to just hop on the train. Until this week, when Safetrack hit my line with a vengeance. My options are cycling, an overcrowded, roundabout metro ride, or an expensive bus that drops me off a ways from the office. And keep in mind that metro is overcrowded on a good day; this overcrowding means waiting for multiple, infrequent trains before you can get on.

So cycling it has been (except one day that I had to stay late and metro home/bus in the next morning). Most of the week, it was enjoyable, even Monday morning when it was very cold. By Friday morning and especially Friday afternoon, when the strong winds were enough to push me and my bike in various directions (especially going over the Potomac), it sucked.

But what I'm here to tell you is that there's power in pushing through that which sucks, and once you've overcome it, it's all the more amazing. You've just done something you didn't think you could do, something you would have wanted to stop doing if that were in option. But you pushed through and you did it. It's an amazing feeling.

Saturday roundup

Shall we leave the red states to their own devices?
The traditional political process was imperfect but it worked.
The travel industry ought to be screaming.
Helene Cooper reports on a woman's presidential victory in Nigeria:
The men fell in line behind Mr. Weah and complained that the women supporting Mrs. Sirleaf were sexist. Given the choice between a soccer player with no credible college education and a Harvard-educated development expert, the top male presidential candidates who fell short of the runoff, with one exception, endorsed the soccer player.
In the meantime, Mr. Weah, honing a message explaining why he, and not Mrs. Sirleaf, should run Liberia, settled on an ''educated people failed'' theme.

But what the men who endorsed that strategy failed to realize was how much that very idea was angering the market women. Those women may not have been educated themselves, but they worked in the fields and the market stalls to send their children to school. Now the men were telling them that education wasn't important.
No woman is surprised that people are more difficult with women.

You can't fight against bodily autonomy and still claim feminism:
If you demand that every girl and woman who becomes pregnant bear a child no matter the consequences to herself, and if you call on the government to back that up through criminal law, there isn’t a lot left to the ideals of equality and self-determination that are fundamental to feminism. One sperm can derail a woman for life. The patriarchal religions that sustain the anti-abortion movement explicitly oppose those ideals and correctly recognize that reproductive rights are what make them possible.
The woman who frantically collected her intruding children out of the room during a Skype interview is not a nanny.
Sustainable seafood, to the extent there is such a thing, has to account for bycatch.
Unsurprisingly, restaurants are the enemy of weight loss. I'm not actively trying to lose weight, but I found myself overeating a lot when I was dating M. (I was also generally sick of going to restaurants).

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Checking back in

I left you last weekend on a sad note, so I should let you know that I'm fine. I think I was fine by that night and definitely by Monday morning. When I saw him on Tuesday--we met up briefly so I could retrieve something I'd left at his place (I'd been prepared to let it go but he offered it to me)--he looked upset, which pained me. He barely looked up from his phone as he handed me the bag, so I didn't stop; I just turned around and went down into the Metro. I felt bad that he felt bad, but I was also out of feelings at that point. By Wednesday night, especially after I relayed the whole saga to a friend before the ballet started, I felt no need to revisit it at all. This friend had shared my cautious high hopes at the start of the relationship, but understood my reasons for being able to let go at the end of it.

At some point, the joy in freedom and more time may turn into an enhanced loneliness, but so far it's all freedom and time. I was thinking during the workweek how less stressful it was to not have to worry about having to leave to meet someone before I finished something. Is that a good freedom--the freedom to stay at work as late as I need to? Having just started a new job, I need that flexibility right now (and I don't end up staying late often). Should I meet someone, I'll manage a way to do both. I know realize the extent to which that last relationship, though mutually convenient in ways, was largely on his terms.

I needed this weekend to myself, too. I don't know where it went. I did briefly think, as I was watching the St. Patrick's Day parade yesterday, that M. would have enjoyed it, and that I might have enjoyed it more had he been there, but the thought didn't pain me; I just shrugged it off. One of the things I felt profoundly during the relationship--particularly when I was happy and hopeful--was how little changed. Sunsets were equally beautiful, not more so, when you enjoyed them with someone you cared about. Movies and plays were just as good or bad. Some things were more enjoyable--for example, it was fun to wander into Katsucon at National Harbor a couple of weekends ago and marvel at the cosplay--but this would have been so with any other companion. And, as Dar Williams would say, I have many great companions.

Sunday roundup

Meat is killing the planet (and people).
A major culprit is the cultivation of soy, which has jumped more than 500 percent in Bolivia since 1991, to 3.8 million hectares in 2013, according to the most recent agricultural censuses. Little of that soy is consumed domestically. The vast majority is processed and exported as animal feed in a commodities trade that serves a global appetite for hamburgers, chicken and pork.
You have to work with the system to improve working conditions and human rights in general, but at what point does the system coopt you?

The travel ban is, unsurprisingly, hurting travel.

Planned Parenthood saves lives.

The deportation craze is a boon to abusers.

What's poisonous and what's venemous?

The Doomsday Clock is a gimmick.

Shakespeare didn't say these things.

Who's not surprised that DC is expensive AF.
The study compared current rental listings with minimum recommended living space and the minimum salary required to pay the rent. According to this survey, no more than 29 percent of a household’s gross income should be spent on rent per month. The minimum amount of space used to calculate and compare rent-per-square-foot is a little small by American standards: 420 for a single person and 797 for four people.
Using those metrics, Washington renters would need an income of at least $57,670 to pay the average rent of $3.33 per square foot, or $1,398 for a 420-square-foot unit or a minimum of $109,756 to pay for an average rent for a family of four of $2,654.
Cute cat, ugly baby.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Well, this hurts

That gaping-hole feeling was merely delayed; it hit me this morning, even before I started stumbling upon the reminders of the relationship: his toothbrush, his towel, the coffee maker that I don't use. And, now that I think about it, a bunch of medium-roast coffee that works best in the coffee maker rather than my prefererred French press, so I guess I'll be leaving the coffee maker out for a while. The treats he got for Gracie (I have no intention to keep giving them to her). Why does this stuff bother me more than the flowers? Why doesn't the overwhelmingness of our incompatibility blunt the pain?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Notes from an even more amicable break-up

I spent the last couple of weeks--but especially this past week--second-guessing my overwhelming sense that the relationship I was in, was doomed. The things that were not working were adding up and it was getting increasingly harder to believe that they could be overcome, even in the face of the many things that were working. On Thursday, I came home from work and cried over the realization that the relationship couldn't be saved. By Friday morning, I thought maybe I was tired and overwhelmed and should give it more time. I was too busy during the day (and evening) to give it any thought, but this morning, I didn't miss him or feel excited about seeing him tonight. When we sat down to dinner, facing each other, I undeniably felt nothing.

I couldn't believe he didn't (not) feel it to, but he did. We were walking around after dinner, and he stopped and asked me if I thought the relationship was working. He didn't think it was. I agreed. We were both sad. I was less so, because I'd gotten my sad out a couple of days ago and at this point I was mostly left with relief--that post-break-up relief of no longer having to dismiss the accumulating dealbreakers. I'd say, also, that the complete, instant closure--the lack of misunderstanding or recrimination, the absense of any need to wonder what went wrong--goes a long way toward easing the pain.

This was, interestingly, the first time my friends didn't try to talk me out of trusting my instincts. Out at trivia the other night, I enumerated the things that weren't working and said I just had a bad feeling about things. I expected my friends, who were in the throes of dating, to tell me to count my blessings, but they acknowledged that my instincts were probably onto something.

The man, on the other hand, was not as forthcoming. I'd felt for at least a week that it would be better to break it off, but that breaking it off was going to hurt. Last weekend, when I didn't hear from M. for, say, 36 hours (eventually, more than 48), I suspected something even though I knew he wasn't the ghosting kind. I started to emotionally prepare myself for our not being together, and I was mostly okay with it but it stung. To the point where, when I did hear from him latish Monday, I was relieved--even though I felt that we were just postponing the inevitable.

So here's what's interesting: I told him explicitly that I'd started to plan for not seeing him again (i.e., I'd made certain decisions around the assumption that we wouldn't be getting together on Tuesday night, as previously planned). He was shocked. He just had a lot of work, he said. Did I think things weren't going well? The way he asked implied that the very thought was absurd. He wouldn't just ghost, he assured me. I knew that, I told him, but there are levels of emotional distancing lesser to ghosting.

He wasn't feigning the shock; it just hadn't all come together for him. After I called him on it, he started wondering why he hadn't texted me all weekend. Sure, he was busy, but that hadn't ever stopped him before. [This, my friends, is a lesson in 'He's Just Not That Into You,' and I picked up on it even before he did.] This made him think about our relationship, which meant coming to the conclusion that things weren't working. It wasn't all in my head--either the dealbreakers or his distancing, even when his words tried to tell me that it was.

So we got together on Tuesday. We didn't talk about it, even though I brought it up. Being with him was more exhausting than anything else, not just because we were both tired. It felt like work. On Wednesday, I vented to my friends. On Thursday, I came home and cried. On Friday and this morning, I reverted to denial, but part of me knew the denial wasn't sustainable. This morning and early afternoon, getting together with another friend, I talked about how I just didn't think it was going to work. This evening, I saw him and I felt nothing. Later in the evening, we broke up, and I felt relief. I haven't cried, even though there's a tinge of sadness. I haven't thrown out his flowers and feel no need to. I feel no need to purge my house or electronics of signs of him. He asked if I wanted to stay friends, I demured. I believe in a clean break and don't really see the point. He said goodbye to the cat--he liked her at least as much as he liked me--and left. We parted on very good terms. I'm a little sad, but I don't feel a gaping hole in the fiber of my being.

Even the immediate, pragmatic things I'm relieved about--having the rest of this evening and tomorrow to myself; having the bed to myself; not having to go to yet another restaurant tomorrow because this guy doesn't like to eat in--are things that would've been of no comfort to me two months ago, and would be of no comfort to me now at the expense of a relationship I wanted to be in. It's time to move on when you think, oh, good, I'm not going to wake up next to him tomorrow.

I don't regret that we dated; I think we learned a lot from each other. I enjoyed getting to know him as a person. I benefitted from getting a stronger understanding of what wasn't negotiable to me, even when I tried to tell myself it wasn't a big deal. Maybe one or two of those things would've been fine, but they were adding up. I feel entirely comfortable holding onto them. I feel more comfortable than ever being who I am, and either knowing that there's someone out there who's looking for it to, and/or it's nevertheless who I am and what I need.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday ramble

I posted, to the roundup a minute ago, this very good piece about how love is not all it's cracked up to be but I actually thought I was posting this piece by Laurie Penny about the value of being single. They're both spot on. Let's start with the first--
Love is quite far down on the list of things that humans “need”—in fact, it’s not on the list at all. Humans need oxygen, water, and food, in that order. Everything else is optional (though clothes and shelter are nearly essential, depending on the climate). Humans are perfectly capable of living an entire life without love. Squirrels don’t love and they seem to be doing just fine.
But “true love,” minus the “one,” somehow persists. It exists in opposition, apparently, to fleeting love—to flings, crushes, and affairs. But really it’s just another form of social elitism: If we believe we have found true love, we are better at life than those who have not.
Which dovetails into the second:
You see, I don’t believe that my relationship constitutes a happy ending. I don’t want a “happy ending”. I don’t want an ending at all, particularly not while I’m still in my goddamn twenties—I want a long life full of work and adventure. I absolutely don’t see partnership as the end of that adventure. And I still believe that being single is the right choice for a great many young women.
Today, whatever else we are, women are still taught that we have failed if we are not loved by men. I’ve lost count of the men who seem to believe that the trump card they hold in any debate is “but you’re unattractive”. “But I wouldn’t date you.” How we feel about them doesn’t matter. Young women are meant to prioritise men’s romantic approval, and young men often struggle to imagine a world in which we might have other priorities.
Men are allowed to think of romantic love as a feeling, an experience, a gift that they expect to be given as a reward for being their awesome selves. That sounds like a great deal to me. I wouldn’t want that challenged. Women, by contrast, learn from an early age that love is work. That in order to be loved, we will need to work hard, and if we want to stay loved we will need to work harder.
The trouble is that there aren’t enough of them for all the brilliant, beautiful, fiercely compassionate women and girls out there who could really do with someone like that in their lives. Those men are like unicorns. If you meet one, that’s great. You might think you’ve met one already—I’ve often thought so—but evidence and experience suggest that a great many unicorns are, in fact, just horses with unconvincing horns. If you don’t manage to catch a real unicorn, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. 
 There was also this piece in the Post about how finding love is a fluke; the writer has no answers.

This was not the first Valentine's Day that I wasn't single, but it was the first that the man I was with insisted on celebrating--insisted that we spend the actual day (well, evening) together, though it was hardly different from any other Tuesday night, except that Deep Fried Masters wasn't on (he has cable). He got me some lovely flowers, which lit up my cubicle (did I mention that I started a "new" job--just for a year, and then I go back--and now I have a cubicle?) for a few days and are now lighting up my dining room. I walked straight from his place on Wednesday morning to work, flowers in hand, profoundly aware that this was a fluke--this year, I happened to get flowers. Later that afternoon, I overheard (such is cubicle life) someone talking about a recent breakup, and I felt for her. Breakups suck, and it's not the time to have other people's relationships shoved in your face.

Sunday roundup

Especially in warfare, values matter.

Refugees and other immigrants are emphatically not the problem.

Conservatives are not silenced. Some, apparently, are threatened by the mere existence of other people.

Selling access to the president is not normal.

Careful about distance-diagnosing people with mental illness.

You know where something is going when it starts with "I'm not a misogynist, but..."

How Czech dissidents built a resistance movement.

Der Spiegel on St. Petersburg.

Billionaires who don't want to make their kids useless.

There truly is so much value in living single.

Nobody cares about your baby to the extent you do.
[Miss Manners...] feels compelled to tell you something that will save you time and friendships in the future as a mother. Not everyone is as excited as you are about every detail of your child’s life. It’s best to know this now, before you start going on Facebook announcing baby’s first spit-up, or throwing parties for when he or she sleeps through the night.
Oh this is sooooo RM
This is a nightmare, and one reason it’s a nightmare is that you’ve already told her directly that you don’t want to hang out with her in Japan and she’s blatantly not accepting this reality. “I am going with my friend and our plans don’t include you.” “You are in no way involved in my trip.” You are not being vague! When someone refuses to engage with the reality of what you are saying when it conflicts with their own desires, that is very weird, and scary! Reasons are for reasonable people, and repeating yourself and explaining things more just gives unreasonable people the idea that stuff is negotiable.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunday roundup

Well, this (screwing over veterans who cleaned up after atomic tests) is really wrong.

Yair Rosenberg on anti-semitism today.

The attack on truth isn't just about facts; it's an attempt to erode our capacity for critical thinking.

A government needs experts and specialists, not (just) "smart" people. And certainly not chaos.

Who doesn't want people like this:
“I was even looking forward to paying taxes,” Mr. Hassan said. “If you pay taxes, that means you have a job and you’re making money, right?”
Here are some great books by refugees.

Brands are just adapting the ways in which they try to exploit our insecurities.
In 2006 preface to a new edition of her feminist classic “Backlash,” Susan Faludi, who has herself been solicited “to place my feminist seal of approval on brands of blue jeans, high heels, even breast implants,” points readers back to a 1929 “Freedom March” commemorating the 19th Amendment. The protest was pulled together by the American Tobacco Company and featured cigarettes as “torches of freedom,” an idea that Virginia Slims cigarettes would replicate decades later in their ads that told young women, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” Faludi notes that, “Hanes even persuaded a [National Organization for Women] official to endorse its ‘liberating’ pantyhose.”
(Ask) Polly and Carolyn urge you to accept, feel, and work through your feelings.

Oh this is so my mother, down to dishing out what she couldn't take.

Check out Mars on earth (i.e., in Ethiopia).

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday roundup

Civil society must step up (and has). [Here, I am an accidental hypocrite; I have yet to make a march--always some personal issue or poor planning. But I communicate with my elected representatives and donate.]

Let the unraveling of this disastrous executive order be the beginning of the end. Not that hard when the other side is more interested in symbolism than reality:
“It’s symbolic of greater security and greater control,” Ayres said. “If he gets part of a wall built and Congress has to pay for it, the response from his supporters will be, ‘Well, we didn’t get Mexico to pay for it but at least we got the wall.’ ”
And Judd Gregg, a former Republican governor and senator from New Hampshire, said that for Trump supporters, concrete changes may be beside the point, at least initially.

“They’re more interested in the verbal jockeying and the confrontational verbal approach than the results,” he said. “So as long as he’s poking a stick in the eye of the people his constituency feels are a problem, the rest won’t matter.”
The end, also, of insulting the memories of people who have died for their country; national self-sabotage; and international cruelty.

On gaslighting.

Rebecca Traister's approach to intersectionality and the opposition movement is the most articulate I've seen:
If there was an over-representation of “nice white ladies” marching, it’s important to note that those white women were showing up for a march led by nonwhite women, in support of a radical and intersectional set of policy principles laid out by nonwhite women, carrying signs and marching in solidarity with plenty of women’s issues that do not center on white women. No, we shouldn’t give them too much credit for showing up where they should have been for years. And yes, the next steps must include white women (and men) showing up for women of color in other ways, at other demonstrations and with other actions (including not voting with an eye to their own privilege).
The Post's attempted normalization of drunk driving would be enough to turn me conservative (except it's not):
“My wife is not a criminal,” said Jimenez, calling his wife’s arrest “something that can happen to anybody.”
I can give you two examples in less than three months of times I either opted out of another drink because I was driving or didn't go somewhere spontaneously (i.e., last night's Dulles protest once I found out about it) because I'd had a drink or two. Personal responsibility, matters.

Portico on Wednesday said it had rewritten its code almost immediately after the issue was raised by Ms. Thorp, dropping the heel requirement, among others. Its old code had warned employees against such things as greasy or highly gelled hair or wearing flowers as accessories. It had also called for heel height to be two to four inches and for makeup to be “worn at all times” and “regularly reapplied,” with a minimum of lipstick, mascara and eye shadow.
A generally good column.

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