Friend crush (n): When you enter a period of being somewhat obsessed with a person you feel close to, albeit in a totally platonic way (you might occasionally confuse it with romantic feelings if your sexual orientations/gender combos align), often taking place at the beginning of a friendship when you’re brand-new to each other’s awesomeness. Everything about them feels delightful. You wait longingly for their snapchat or a witty, warm text. You miss them if you don’t see them for more than 12 hours.
“Horrifyingly, many girls said they believed that men cannot keep themselves from harassing or grabbing women, describing men as ‘unable to control their sexual desires.’ According to the report, ‘they perceived everyday harassment and abuse as normal male behavior, and as something to endure, ignore, or maneuver around.’”—
Barnard’s student elections fucking SUCK. I mean, everyone is probably thinking, “haha it’s just a college election they can’t do anything who cares, anyway?” But they can get stuff done. Across the street, Columbia’s student body government has been doing stuff like slowly but surely dismantling the school’s sexual adjudication policies and liberalizing its academic policies and pullings its communications system out of the dark age. The new Columbia College student VP of Policy’s past work is one of the reasons why actual NY politicians today are publicly criticizing sexual assault at Columbia.
Meanwhile, one of the Barnard candidates running for the university senator position (like she’ll be sitting in on meetings with the president of Columbia and faculty and etc.) says on her platform that she wants to help develop a university-wide survey. NEWFLASH IT ALREADY EXISTS LIKE DO YOU EVEN GO TO THIS SCHOOL?
Also, like 90% of candidates make vague references to sexual violence adjudication in lieu of having any, you know, real talking points or a comprehensive platform. I’ve only gone to about half of the anti-sexual violence coalition meetings this semester, but I sincerely doubt they’ve been within 50 feet of them any time.
“In social justice, there’s this absurd meme (that I’ve been guilty of myself) is that we are the “voice for the voiceless,” but that’s not right. The oppressed are not voiceless – they’re just not being listened to.”—
Such highs and lows for today. On one hand I got to exchange thoughts with both friends and strangers on the challenges of kindness when your friends/family are mentally unwell or lashing out on you. We had tomato soup and grilled cheese.
On the other hand I had to skip class to cover a 1-hour event for someone in my e-board who bailed 5 minutes before her shift because apparently it was way more important for her to go to Barnard’s Spirit Week free lunch. Yeah, priorities. I was virtually begging her over the phone to come because no one else could do it. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m such a bad person. But I’m graduating and I really want to go to this, you know?”
"I’M GRADUATING, TOO," I nearly screamed. "But you signed up for this and I really think you should honor your commitment. We don’t have time to find anyone else." She said she would consider it. About two minutes after her shift was supposed to start, she called me. "I’m at Spirit Week and I’m not coming. This is horrible. Can I make this up to you?"
Just thinking about this makes me want to pass out from too much incoherent I-CAN’T-EVEN
“A wise person knows when and how to make the exception to every rule… A wise person knows how to improvise… Real-world problems are often ambiguous and ill-defined and the context is always changing. A wise person is like a jazz musician — using the notes on the page, but dancing around them, inventing combinations that are appropriate for the situation and the people at hand. A wise person knows how to use these moral skills in the service of the right aims. To serve other people, not to manipulate other people. And finally, perhaps most important, a wise person is made, not born. Wisdom depends on experience, and not just any experience. You need the time to get to know the people that you’re serving. You need permission to be allowed to improvise, try new things, occasionally to fail and to learn from your failures. And you need to be mentored by wise teachers.”—
A 92-pound Yale history major says the university’s health center told her she needed to gain weight or take a leave of absence from school. She’s spent the past 6 months trying to put on pounds for her weekly weigh-ins.
My school’s primary health care services recently tried to force a girl I know to undergo diabetic testing because she had an overweight BMI. I’ll admit that I don’t know everything about this subject, but BMI ISN’T the end-all be-all indicator of health or fitness, only a jumping off point. I’m surprised that health care professionals don’t realize the importance of taking both individual and family history into account. I’ve had an underweight BMI my entire life and probably will until I have children. The women in my family were the same.
Pro-lifer: Would you have wanted to be aborted Me: Yes
LOL I always found this to be the FUCKING ODDEST question. Like not is there an assortment of weird philosophical/existential(metaphysical??) implications in that question that i’m not intelligent or interested enough to unpack, but it’s terribly self-centered. Like, no, I wouldn’t have wanted my mother to have been coerced into giving birth to me. Are pro-lifers telling me that you would have wanted your mother to have been subjected to your birth? To have suffered against her will to usher in your grimy little existence? Are you really THAT important?
So this day jumpstarts Days on Campus, an elaborate weeklong event of Columbia welcoming new prospies and accepted students, and an anti-sexual assault activist group has planted themselves outside of the main campus building, handing out letters criticizing the administration to the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed prefrosh.
I shot down a boomer at the bar last night. He was going on about how lazy his interns are, so I asked him point blank: “Did you ever have to work for free?” and he said “No, but I worked in a ice cream shop for $12 an hour in 1986.” I then whipped out the DOL inflation calculator and showed him he was making the equivalent of $60,000 per year at the time. He flinched and then went about disregarding me, but for one moment I think he got it.
I cannot believe that is fucking real life.
Also, 12 dollars for working at an ice cream shop still feels like riches today.
We shed as we pick up, like travelers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language.
It’s been nearly four years since I started this blog. Four years, 7,872 posts, and 16,599 followers.
What I’ve gotten from running this blog can’t be measured by numbers. I’m not sure how, exactly, you measure the kinds of discussions, debates, and amazing learning experiences I’ve been…
STFUSexists is one of the first people I followed when I joined Tumblr four years ago, and her blog gave me a life-changing education. It really did. She’s been fantastically and inexorably smart, witty, insightful, intersectional, and rigorous. What I’ve always admired that despite a kind of take-no-prisoners mentality when it comes to people she disagrees with, she’s actually rather generous about accepting criticism on the (few) genuine mistakes she’s made. I’ve always hoped and suspected that this formidable lady would enter progressive politics and I’m so happy to be right so far. My hat off to you. You’ve done more than you can possibly imagine by running this Tumblr and being open and supportive to women of all identities. Thank you.
Also, following her on Twitter and her new personal Tumblr immediately.
Ta-Nehisi Coates came to Barnard today. (I had to miss the first hour of him speaking because I was in a meeting with a dean with some other students that became incredibly depressing when she started describing ways in which students try to kill themselves.) Coates was fantastic, if quite informal. The audience was mostly weird. One white lady started speaking at length about how Coates was completely oversimplifying White America in the 1820s cuz, ya know, there were lots of abolitionists back then and also a law in NY that required people to take care of their slaves when they were old! She had no question; she just wanted to put that out there, just sayin’. The audience, and probably Coates as well, was mesmerized with regret and disbelief. People began to giggle. A friend of mine was the next one to take the mic, and began her question with “Uh, sorry to follow that.” It was a saving grace.
15 minutes later, another lady in the audience speaks out of turn for a good three minutes or so about how she doesn’t take shit or racism from anyone. Has no question to ask, either. Coates, gently: “Well, I don’t know what to say to that.”
My friend and I then waited after the Q&A to talk to him. We hugged him and took a picture with him. I asked him why he had left Twitter (he RT’d me once and it was the second best day of my life!) “I was just talking so much,” he said. “Like, I’m a writer, but I don’t have to talk this much.” I disagreed. There are lots of well-intentioned people who regardless take up too much space, but I don’t think Coates could ever be one of them.
A good friend of mine currently working in HK was very excited about Coates speaking and had asked me to ask him what his influences and strategies were as a writer. What I learned: Coates got his start in poetry, saying that it helped him clarify his writing. “Because it makes you convey a lot in very little?” I asked, thinking of the gorgeous yet economical flourishes he often ends his articles with that I’ve thought of as poetic on more than one occasion. “Yep,” he said. He thinks one of the best writers today is Elizabeth Kolbert of the New Yorker, Kate Flanagan (not sure who this is or the spelling, despite a Google search), and he liked Christopher Hitchens as well.
"On some subjects,” I said, referring to Hitchens.
"Right," he said. "When he wrote seriously."
(I think Hitchens was totally serious when he was writing about Iraq, though)
My friend, the one who followed the unfortunate white lady’s act, had asked Coates what kept him happy amid writing about such grim subjects. He said that writing and sharing stories about black injustices that he felt needed to be shared truly made him happy, and being there at Barnard talking to everyone gave him great pleasure. And then there was this wonderful part, when he started to talk about the fatalism present in a lot of people he knows, particularly in oppressed people of color:
"We’re all going to die someday. It ends badly, right? And it probably ends like the country will ultimately destroy itself as most states tend to. I’m getting to the optimistic part…But you’re not the country. You’re not the state. And within that, you have decide where you want to be when history is counting on us. Do you want to be part of the people trying to push us over the edge, or do you want be part of the people who, even if it didn’t work, would try to stop that. I think there is great nobility, I think there is great peace, I think there is great happiness in deciding how you personally want to live your life. People often say, you know, “If it’s going to go bad, it’s going to go bad. Why should I care?” You should care because you care. You should care because that’s part of being a good person. What happens in this country is not an answer to how you should live your life.”
(as transcribed by my awesome friend, who was smart enough to record all of his answer while I was idiotically tweeting)
Are you okay? Is New York getting to you? Are things not going according to plan? Stop whining. For fuck’s sake. The p…
V. important read as I contemplate my post-college life
I love these lines in particular:
It took ten years before the Greeks and the Bangladeshis in my neighborhood stopped sneering when I spent my money in their crappy corner groceries and made eye contact with me. But once I had grudgingly earned their respect, you know what? They turned out to be wise, jolly, lovable scamps who taught me to love life to its fullest, while speaking broken English.
That’s a lie, of course. They were all assholes. Just cranky, angry people.
We got along. I am honest with myself.
I am an asshole.
I thought about writing one of those “Why I Left New York” essays on the off chance that New York would notice. I knew better.
Why did I leave New York?
For a job. I took a job. A good job.
Also, let’s be honest, because I am a wimp.
L.A. smells like flowers all the fucking time and I think that smell is pumped in from kind of secret reservoir of perfume. But I didn’t leave New York because I fell out of love with the city.
If New York had voice mail I would leave it insane messages day and night. I would tell it how much I love and miss it. The energy. The culture. The Jamaican meat pies.
There would be sobbing.
I would text it “hi” and “sup” and “r u ok” constantly.
I love New York. My love is strong. My love is psycho.
If I ever move back, if I’m even allowed to return, New York will briefly study my face and mutter “Who the fuck are you?”
If not, I will always look back on getting my ass kicked fondly because that pain is proof that I had a relationship with New York’s steel-toed boot.
My back once went out on my way to work, and New York did nothing as I squirmed in unbelievable agony on the streets of Queens. I dragged myself by my bloody fingertips five blocks back to my apartment.
I wouldn’t mind, but splitting children’s books strictly along gender lines is not even good publishing. Just like other successful children’s books, The Hunger Games was not aimed at girls or boys; like JK Rowling, Roald Dahl, Robert Muchamore and others, Collins just wrote great stories, and readers bought them in their millions. Now, Dahl’s Matilda is published with a pink cover, and I have heard one bookseller report seeing a mother snatching a copy from her small son’s hands saying “That’s for girls” as she replaced it on the shelf.
You see, it is not just girls’ ambitions that are being frustrated by the limiting effects of “books for girls”, in which girls’ roles are all passive, domestic and in front of a mirror. Rebecca Davies, who writes the children’s books blog at Independent.co.uk, tells me that she is equally sick of receiving “books which have been commissioned solely for the purpose of ‘getting boys reading’ [and which have] all-male characters and thin, action-based plots.” What we are doing by pigeon-holing children is badly letting them down. And books, above all things, should be available to any child who is interested in them.
Happily, as the literary editor of The Independent on Sunday, there is something that I can do about this. So I promise now that the newspaper and this website will not be reviewing any book which is explicitly aimed at just girls, or just boys. Nor will The Independent’s books section. And nor will the children’s books blog at Independent.co.uk. Any Girls’ Book of Boring Princesses that crosses my desk will go straight into the recycling pile along with every Great Big Book of Snot for Boys. If you are a publisher with enough faith in your new book that you think it will appeal to all children, we’ll be very happy to hear from you. But the next Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen will not come in glittery pink covers. So we’d thank you not to send us such books at all.
“Much like fairy tales, there are two facets of horror. One is pro-institution, which is the most reprehensible type of fairy tale: Don’t wander into the woods, and always obey your parents. The other type of fairy tale is completely anarchic and antiestablishment.”—Guillermo del Toro on how horror is inherently political as a genre, Time Magazine (x)
I was just a 17-year old kid from the Bronx with dreams of becoming a scientist, and somehow the world’s most famous astronomer found time to invite me to Ithaca in upstate NY and spend a Saturday with him.
I remember that snowy day like it was yesterday. He met me at the bus stop. He showed me his laboratory at Cornell University. Carl reached behind his desk, and inscribed this book (Cosmic Connection) for me:
For Neil Tyson,
With all good wisdom to a future astronomer.
- Carl Sagan
At the end of the day, he drove me back to the bus station. The snow was falling harder. He wrote his phone number, his home phone number, on a scrap of paper. And he said, “If the bus can’t get through, call me. Spend the night at my home, with my family.”
I already knew I wanted to become a scientist, but that afternoon I learned from Carl the kind of person I wanted to become. He reached out to me and to countless others. Inspiring so many of us to study, teach, and do science. Science is a co-operative enterprise, spanning the generations. It’s the passing of a torch from teacher to student to teacher. A community of minds reaching back from antiquity and forward to the stars.
Haha so many mixed reactions online. Some of it is typical whiny nonsense, like “why PP why couldn’t we have gotten an [insert person on daytime television] instead,” which we get every single year. Like, my freshman year the commencement speaker was Sheryl Sandberg and people online were going “who is this and why can’t we get random bland anchoress instead” and I was like YOUR EDUCATION HAS BEEN WASTED ON YOU.
Indignant political comments popping up on campus news media but, like, I mean, sucks to suck.
(Edit: Some of the seniors I know are making condom jokes. Are you fucking serious.)