.@femfreq A group of brooding white males is called a sulk.— Michael Hughes (@mobilesworking) June 9, 2014
I would like to say in my defense that I don’t really get the appeal of YOLO. I live many times over. Hypothetical, subterranean lives that run beneath the relative tedium of my own and have the power to occasionally penetrate or even derail it.
Zadie Smith, “What to Read This Summer" in O Magazine.
I used to think that maybe I’d let my anger serve as an engine. But I’ve since discovered that my anger over each new racist incident is now rivaled and augmented by the anger I feel when asked to explain, once more, why black people shouldn’t be brutalized, insulted, and killed. If you’re a person of color, the racism beat is also a professional commitment to defending your right and the right of people like you to be treated with consideration to an audience filled with readers champing at the bit to call you nothing but a nigger playing the race card.
I wish I had anything more intelligible to say than, word, but I don’t.
It’s that thing where majority types don’t understand that/how marginalized people are required to be experts in the lives and ways of the majority just to navigate the damn world that the majority runs.
my super-smart friend Jeff A.
And in the end, forgiveness in the absence of love is a more interesting and curious idea than forgiveness in the presence of love. Why would you even contemplate showing any mercy to someone who had been merciless to you when that mercilessness was your only real bond? It’s a more philosophical question than why you would show kindness to a friend or spouse or parent who hurt you. It’s more pure: There’s no relationship other than pain. What’s the motivation for grace?
Challenge update: all done! …or am I!?
In March, I watched 25 movies  and read 3 books. Of those 3 books, I read 2 of them each in one day: Helen Wan and Jenny Lawson got their hooks in almost immediately and I couldn’t put the books down (except to get a snack).
Of the movies… Oblivion was the most surprising and possibly my favorite. Well, second favorite? Because 20 Feet From Stardom. The biggest disappointment for me was The Counselor. Surely, I thought, this low, low Rotten Tomatoes rating is just so many people Not Getting It, right?
Turns out: nope! Tons of potential, rubbish movie.
In other news, I’ve decided to extend the no re-watch portion of the challenge through the end of June(!). I’m enjoying it a lot.
1. 7 of the movies happened in one day when I went to see the Oscar-nominated animated shorts. (:
[All of us Minority Darlings who had made it this far] collected something else, too, unbeknownst to the other colleagues we shared laughs and drinks with after work. We kept a meticulous tally of all the slights and slurs collected over the years—each look of surprise on a new client’s face upon first meeting, every hushed, broken-off conversation when we entered a room. On rare occasions, in trusted company, we aired them out, dusted them off, and tossed them around like war stories. Rolled up our sleeves and revealed them to each other, like battle scars.
The Partner Track, Helen Wan
Every single one.
From looking at me, you wouldn’t know that I was a woman who ‘d just broken up with her boyfriend, stumbled home to her apartment in the wee hours of the morning, and was operating on three hours of sleep. My makeup was tasteful and perfect. Every hair was in place. I looked, well, fucking impeccable.
The Partner Track, Helen Wan.
Oh man. Word, Ingrid—well, Helen; fucking word.
Challenge update: still going strong! :D
13 movies and 2 books in February. Does Coriolanus count as a movie? I mean, we saw it in a theater, but that was a broadcast of a stage production, so it’s not technically a play…? In any case: it is fantastic and definitely worth seeing as a companion to the Ralph Fiennes version—they’re both really well-suited to their medium (even though the National Theater production goes a little… Flashdance there about 1/4 of the way through; what is that?)
At the other end of my spectrum you’ll find Great Expectations (1998) and The Dinner by Herman Koch. GE is… well, it’s pretty terrible. I barely made it through to the end, spending most of the movie wishing for a drink stronger than a beer.
The Dinner… I like the fact of the book and find the story interesting but can’t fucking stand the characters. Mean, hateful, deeply selfish, I’d kick everyone of those people in the shins given the chance. And yet: it’s well-written.
…I was realizing that we had not quite been told the truth. It wasn’t that we had been lied to, exactly. … We could definitely have A Lot. Many of us even managed to have Quite A Good Deal of It. But we were all finding out that, no, actually, regrettably, painfully, we had not quite figured out how to have It All. At least not All at the Same Time.
The Partner Track, Helen Wan
What a shame, I often think, that she foresaw only the end times, never hot dogs.
"Vampires in the Lemon Grove", Karen Russell
All listen raptly to Chapter Five, where Ingrid compares herself to a young, white woman at the firm:
'I was jealous of her confidence and her utter unself-consciousness. What would it be like, I marveled, to go through life so utterly unwary? So wholly certain of your belonging to a place that it was never necessary to consider how your next move would be perceived? Making partner at Parsons Valentine felt like a big final exam to which a select few held the answer key. While the rest of us schmucks had to study.'
From Helen Wan’s first novel The Partner Track (via “Beyond the Bamboo Ceiling”)
Definitely putting The Partner Track on my list.
(What would that be like?)
Gravity is an old-fashioned woman-in-jeopardy film dressed up in stunning technology to distract us from the weak story. It strains to give thematic depth: Woman who is untethered from humanity and God because her daughter died eventually embraces life after a chat with a subconscious angelic messenger and is rewarded by her return to an Eden-like state of grace. Redemption story template #23. Nevertheless, Sandra Bullock deserves her nomination and the movie definitely should win in a few of the ten categories it’s been nominated for. Much less pretentious woman-in-jeopardy films include Aliens and Run Lola Run.
Kareem: The Oscars’ Addiction to Lame Historical Dramas, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for Esquire
"Redemption story template #23" Hee.
It’s less that I agree with him (I don’t as I haven’t seen Gravity yet) and more that unlike so many people who write about movies, he teases apart the acting from the story which can be and frequently are of differing quality. The excellence of one does not guarantee the other.
(I really enjoy how often Kareem’s writing is showing up lately; so good.)
Wanting to claim someone as part of your ethnic or racial group may seem like a strange exercise, more than a little self-involved and even downright narcissistic. But it is a compulsion born of a desire to see oneself reflected in media and popular culture. Like it or not, that’s what sets many of our expectations about what’s beautiful, what’s desirable, what’s “normal.” And not seeing yourself conveys a message that you are none of these things.
Let Me Introduce You To My Cousins, Lupita Nyong’o and Louis C.K. by Carolina Gonzalez for NPR’s Code Switch
How can I put this politely… fucking word.
People think they’re devil’s advocate-ing a conversation when they smirk “why’s it always gotta be about race with you?” Well, this is a big reason why. You think race isn’t a big deal because you aren’t marked. You don’t have 400m of hurdles to clear just to get to the starting line. Almost everyone in media looks like you, so it doesn’t occur to you that might be weird for some of us.
So, yes, I love the Cheerios commercial because holy geez that little girl is impossibly adorable, but also because eee! they look like my people and they’re not a punchline, they’re just an American family. That that is (still) remarkable is why it’s always gotta be about race.
Challenge update: so far, so good! No lapses.
January: 15 movies (!) and 3 books (all from the library; dork). My favorite book in January is Sanderson’s Steelheart: it’s a cool story and not nearly as bleak as its dystopian features might lead you to expect.
So far in February, I have borrowed and returned Stephenson’s Reamde because in a fit of lunacy, I added everything on the Tournament of Books’ list this year to my library queue and as you can see a few are already in: there’s no way I’m getting to Reamde anytime soon.
(Something about The Dinner's narrator, Paul, makes me twitch, but I'll keep going. For now.)