A Letter to New Mothers

The Interior Life

I’ve got several friends who are expecting, or have recently welcomed, their first babies this year. Whenever I think of them, I have an instant flashback to my first week home with Claire, which is blurred at the edges with the ungodly sleep deprivation that comes with the gift of parenthood.

I would not say that I handled the adjustment well. I remember my mother-in-law calling me “unflappable,” and my own mother saying how wonderfully laid back I seemed, but this was either a great ruse on my part or it was simply their interpretation of what I remember as a feeling of utter overwhelm.

After talking with two friends this week who now live farther away from me than I would like, I was also reminded of the blessed kindness extended to me as a new mother. These two women – one, the mother of two, and the other…

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Interview: ‘Poor Teeth’ Writer Sarah Smarsh on Class and Journalism

Longreads

Julia Wick | Longreads | November 7, 2014 | 11 minutes (2,674 words)

“I am bone of the bone of them that live in trailer homes.” That’s the first line of Sarah Smarsh’s essay “Poor Teeth,” which appeared on Aeon earlier this month. Like much of Smarsh’s work, “Poor Teeth” is a story about inequity in America. It is also a story about teeth, hers and her grandmother’s and also the millions of Americans who lack dental coverage.

Smarsh has written for Harper’s, Guernica and The Morning News, among other outlets. Her perspective is very much shaped by her personal experiences: She grew up in a family where most didn’t graduate from high school, and she later chaired the faculty-staff Diversity Initiative as a professor at Washburn University in Topeka. I spoke with her about her own path to journalism and how the media cover issues of class. 

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It’s Time To Retire the “Make Your Own” Argument

Troy L. Wiggins

stopit

It’s a wonderful time to be a nerd on the internet, more or less. There are inclusive spaces almost everywhere, and many of these inclusive communities are doing a great job holding gatekeepers and tastemakers responsible for the chronic lack of diversity in mainstream media properties. Nerds have become the best kind of pop/geek culture critics by fighting for representation and not putting up with people’s crap. It brings a tear to my eye, it does.

Still, the internet is full of opinions, and whenever someone says something critical of a particular property or company, tempers can flare. I spend a lot of time in nerdy spaces, and one of the most common rebuttals to criticism of big-budget, mainstream media properties and companies is:

See, that’s why we need to make our own/tell our own stories/do it ourselves!

or…

If you don’t like how the big corporations do it, stop complaining and make…

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“He Has Aspergers” and Everything Else I Never Wanted To Hear About My Son

A Buick in the Land of Lexus

-broken-broken-heart-26794018-299-300

Do you hear that?

Come closer.

That’s the sound of my heart breaking.

My son has always loved the ocean. His eyes are the color of the sea, changing from blue to green with the swell of the tide.  And my love for him is an ocean, an overwhelming force which is sometimes calm and steady, and other times full of conflict.

A mother’s love is like the continuous miracle of the sea. It begins in the ocean of your womb – but there is something unsettling about the way your baby kicks. So fiercely you feel bruised on the inside.

There is something willful and stubborn about his refusal to come out. He arrives weeks late, and even then – after almost 40 hours of labor.

Your baby is overwhelming and mysterious and brutal, like the ocean. He screams uncontrollably for hours a day, every day. And you bring him to…

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Net neutrality? Competition? Free enterprise? All of the above!

Sweet Talk

UPDATES: There’s been good discussion on Twitter regarding this post. I have added updates at the end.

Introduction:

Net Neutrality is great, but there’s an achievable policy that’s even better. Get the solution that provides consumer protection AND entrepreneurial innovation AND good Netflix download rates.

Main:

What’s going on?

The news of the day is that President Obama has announced that the FCC should reclassify Internet service providers (like Comcast, Time Warner, and Google Fiber) from “information services” to “common carriers”, essentially transforming them into something more like a utility (like your local Gas & Electric Company) than the competitive business you know today. The FCC is an independent agency, so Obama’s announcement isn’t policy, but of course the President’s words have weight and meaning.

The Problems

Of course, some readers are already scoffing. “Competitive business? What competition? Most local ISP markets are one-provider affairs. There’s no competition from the…

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Riots and Reason

tressiemc

I truly believe that to be a good teacher, a decent writer or a perfunctory scholar one has to concede the limits of evidence, reason, and rationality.

It is no wonder I believe that. Evidence, reason and rationality can rarely explain my place in this world. I know the limits even as I try to stretch them. It is either futile or the human experience or, I suspect, it is both.

For months I have participated and supported the ground work of activists, scholars, teachers, preachers, parents, young people, old people, and people people in Ferguson, MO. My contribution amounts to little more than nil on the grand scale of things. Mostly, I have hoped that people would persist.

It is an unreasonable hope.

Representatives of the State, of a public that includes black people who are also a public, were defiant when they announced the grand jury results of Michael…

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You don’t need empathy to support a depressed person

karenwriteshere

When a friend was hospitalized for appendicitis, people flocked to visit him at the hospital. When I was clinically depressed, some who knew it avoided me like the plague. But I completely understand — it’s natural for us to be afraid of the unfamiliar, including unfamiliar illnesses. And when it comes to depression, people are wary not because they are afraid it might be contagious (hey, many don’t even recognize it as an illness!), but because they are afraid of saying the “wrong” thing.

A friend once apologized to me, “I’m sorry I haven’t been reaching out to you or being there for you. I’m not like J — I wish I were, but I’m not. But know that I’ve been praying for you, okay?”

At the time, I smiled and told him not to worry about it. I read between the lines and I read his facial expressions — I…

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The Limits of Memory

Love in the Spaces

HPIM3510

You have insufficient memory.

Deadpan.  As if no irony were involved, my computer informed me it had aborted the task of uploading digital pictures.

I don’t ask that much of my computer, but there you have it.

I had amassed more than 1300 photos on my wee camera.  Too many pictures, with nowhere to go.

At first my rapidly antiquating computer flashed a sign that I was low on memory.  Then, having failed to get a reaction from me, it balked like a testy toddler and shut itself down, refusing to even consider loading another picture until I cleared space on my hard drive.

The only way to do this was, at long last, to go through the archives and dispense with the over and under-lit shots, the closed eyes, the needless near-identical extras.  The pictures that simply were not special enough to occupy space in my memory.

I…

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