MONDAY MIX – 3/12/18

Spring has sprung in Houston!   I know friends in other places are bracing for snow, but down here the pollen is coating everything in sight, rendering cars yellow and noses runny.  Still, the glorious showy azalea blooms and budding trees make it seem worth it…not to mention the gorgeously cool days we’re basking in.  As seen above, we celebrated Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, a few weeks ago on our friends’s farm.   I loved Holi as a kid, and so did Shiv; the raucous joy of throwing colored powder at friends and family translates across place and time!  It felt good to celebrate life and aliveness with loved ones.

-I’ve got a few things to share this Monday, and I’ll start with this fascinating piece in The Washington Post by a professor of social psychology at Yale, John Bargh.  He writes about research that links the presence of fear for one’s physical safety to conservative political attitudes, and how researchers have attempted to manipulate those attitudes by reducing fear.

-Though my personal experiences do not mirror the authors, I felt so much resonance with this Slate piece by Alison Spodek Keimowitz.  Keimowitz is both a cancer patient and a professor of environmental chemistry (with a specialty in pollution) at Vassar College; she writes beautifully about how her experience with cancer allowed her to relate differently to the realities of climate change:

“Many students come to my classroom already knowing about carbon dioxide, sea level rise, and mass extinction. What they don’t know, because none of us really do, is how to move forward, how to breathe, and how to live with the knowledge of our own personal and planetary mortality. But perhaps I can offer them tools to endure with some grace.”

-Last but not least, this New York Times recipe is a winner: Garlicky Chicken with Lemon-Anchovy Sauce.  ANCHOVY HATERS GO HATE ELSEWHERE.  My only tweaks were to wait to add the capers before putting the chicken in the oven, and to bump up the lemon juice.  Served this with risotto for maximum sauce-soaking-up purposes and Shiv told me, “Mama, you make the bestest chicken.”  Who can argue with that?

 

MONDAY MIX – 3/5/18

Back in the saddle with Monday mixes!  The last few weeks were so full -namely because I was making enough carrot cake to feed 200 people for a dear friend’s wedding (hence the photo above) – that I let it slide.  And to be totally honest, part of why is that I started to think it was silly to keep writing these, because only, like, ten people read them each week, but then I realized a) so what?  ten people are not inherently less valuable than ten thousand people, and b) I enjoy having these posts for myself, as an archive of the things I’m thinking about and reading, as well as the recipes I’m making.  So, now that I got my mind right about it all, let’s go.  (And if you’re one of the ten people reading these posts, hi and thank you!)

  • I haven’t willingly watched a horror movie since that unfortunate time I saw The Shining at a friends’ house, so some of the references in this piece were lost on me, but I loved it anyway.  A timely & thoughtful piece of commentary about the role of the genre and the very real consequences of disregarding women – The Peril of Being Disbelieved: Horror and the Intuition of Women:

“Horror exists as a genre primarily to reflect the ugly and the despicable parts of our world back at us through a funhouse lens that makes the trauma digestible…Some of these lessons are cautionary, which explains all the teenaged kids making bad spring break choices. But some of these lessons are simply mirror images of terrors we know all too well—like a girl telling someone that she isn’t comfortable, and being told in response that she’s the worst kind of downer for daring to admit it.”

 

“But the Mississippi I grew up in, the Mississippi that I live in now, that I’m raising my children in, resists this broadened understanding of what it means to be a human being. It resists the desire to rise above the circumstance of caste that we are born into and to never worry about the next time you’ll eat or whether your children are hungry. The desire to avoid having to feed your children the cheapest, most filling food you can—beans and rice one day, hot dogs the next—and still see them openmouthed. This Mississippi insists that there is a natural order to this arrangement, that if you are poor or wanting, you’re to blame if you starve. That you deserve your poverty, your squalor, your suffering, and that you do not deserve help or, as this Mississippi likes to say, “handouts.'”

 

  • This was a hilarious delight – New York Public Library reference cards from the 1940s, essentially the old-school analog equivalent of today’s Google search.  My favorite: “Is it proper to go to Reno alone to get a divorce?”  See more here.

 

  • Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks is a reliable source for vegetarian meals that help break me out of my cooking ruts: this green falafel recipe is a recent favorite.  They weren’t at all hard to make (and were convenient since I already had all of the ingredients on hand), and all three of us loved them browned in a pan and then finished in the oven.  I served them with a yogurt-lemon juice-garlic-salt sauce, hummus, and some za’atar roasted carrots.  Next time, I’ll make a double batch so I can freeze a dozen!

 

  • Last but not least, I am offering a new writing course!  Several folks have previously indicated interest in a memoir/personal writing course, so I developed Crafting Personal Narrative, a course that will run in two parts: Part I this spring, Part II this summer.  Registration for Part I is now open and will close this Friday, March 9th; read more about the courses and/or sign up here.

 

MONDAY MIX – 2/11/18

A few years ago, I attended a conference presentation during which audience members were asked to construct a metaphor to represent our experiences as students.  No one had ever asked me to do this, so I was intrigued, but pretty stumped.  Then I remembered my old boom box, with its radio and dual cassette deck–I always kept a blank tape handy, ready to press “record” whenever something caught my ear.  I realized that I did the same in the classroom, gathering bits and pieces from various sources, often without an idea of how–or even if!–those pieces would fit together. That was the joy of making and sharing mix tapes; when crafted thoughtfully, they were greater than the sum of their parts.  

In that same spirit, I share a weekly “mix” of articles, recipes, book recommendations, and ideas in the hopes that something I share might fit into your own personal, ever-evolving collage. 

Have something you think I might be interested in?  I’d love to hear about it.  Share it here.

**

So…there was no Monday Mix last Monday – I got sick and the week got away from me.  But I’m back, with a couple of things to share:

 

-I’ll start with the most serious – this New York Times Magazine piece about the impact of online porn on teenage sex and desire.  The mom of a former student recommended the piece to me using the phrase “required reading for all parents,” and I have to agree.

 

-If you, like me and Jill, spent last night watching Mirai Nagasu landing that triple axel and swooning over Adam Rippon’s gorgeous long program and sitting in stunned disbelief over the perfection that is Virtue & Moir, then you might enjoy listening to this Radiolab episode about Surya Bonaly:

“Surya Bonaly was not your typical figure skater.  She was black. She was athletic. And she didn’t seem to care about artistry.  Her performances – punctuated by triple-triple jumps and other power moves – thrilled audiences around the world.  Yet, commentators claimed she couldn’t skate, and judges never gave her the high marks she felt she deserved.  But Surya didn’t accept that criticism.  Unlike her competitors – ice princesses who hid behind demure smiles – Surya made her feelings known.  And, at her final Olympic performance, she attempted one jump that flew in the face of the establishment, and marked her for life as a rebel.”

 

-Also topical, this fascinating interview with the head of Black Panther‘s hair department about the various styles and processes employed by the film, which celebrates, among other things, black hair in its natural state.  The article also comes, helpfully, with a list of recommended products.  (Have already ordered the scalp soothing serum for Shiv!)

 

-Last but not least, I made these pancakes on Friday night (breakfast for dinner to go along with the Olympic Opening Ceremonies), and was reminded that I have not yet recommended them to all of you.  They are light, fluffy, and very simple to make – no separating eggs, no fuss – just make sure you have some plain yogurt & apple cider vinegar on hand.

MONDAY MIX – 1/29/18

A few years ago, I attended a conference presentation during which audience members were asked to construct a metaphor to represent our experiences as students.  No one had ever asked me to do this, so I was intrigued, but pretty stumped.  Then I remembered my old boom box, with its radio and dual cassette deck–I always kept a blank tape handy, ready to press “record” whenever something caught my ear.  I realized that I did the same in the classroom, gathering bits and pieces from various sources, often without an idea of how–or even if!–those pieces would fit together. That was the joy of making and sharing mix tapes; when crafted thoughtfully, they were greater than the sum of their parts.  

In that same spirit, I share a weekly “mix” of articles, recipes, book recommendations, and ideas in the hopes that something I share might fit into your own personal, ever-evolving collage. 

Have something you think I might be interested in?  I’d love to hear about it.  Share it here.

**

-Here’s your reminder that reporters are heroes and that local newspapers are important; this New York Times piece details the painstaking investigative work that Indianapolis Star reporters did, ultimately leading to the arrest and now conviction of Larry Nassar.

 

-I made this bread on Sunday and it is really freaking delicious.  In general, I have great success with recipes that Tim (of Lottie & Doof fame) recommends, and this was no exception; not at all difficult to put together, super gratifying to pull out of the oven.  You’ll probably need to go to the store for bread flour, heavy cream, & nonfat dry milk powder, but I can promise you it’s worth it.  Most decadent Monday morning toast ever.

 

-My wife, Jill, is offering an online course on Eastern Religions!  Content will include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Taoism & Shinto, so if you’ve been intrigued by these religions in the past or have always wanted to know more about them, I highly recommend this class.  Obviously I’m biased, but Jill has a reputation as a teacher for bringing complex ideas to life and making them relatable for her students.  She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion and over twenty years of experience teaching on these topics; registration is open through Wednesday, January 31st, so sign up now!

 

MONDAY MIX – 1/22/18

A few years ago, I attended a conference presentation during which audience members were asked to construct a metaphor to represent our experiences as students.  No one had ever asked me to do this, so I was intrigued, but pretty stumped.  Then I remembered my old boom box, with its radio and dual cassette deck–I always kept a blank tape handy, ready to press “record” whenever something caught my ear.  I realized that I did the same in the classroom, gathering bits and pieces from various sources, often without an idea of how–or even if!–those pieces would fit together. That was the joy of making and sharing mix tapes; when crafted thoughtfully, they were greater than the sum of their parts.  

In that same spirit, I share a weekly “mix” of articles, recipes, book recommendations, and ideas in the hopes that something I share might fit into your own personal, ever-evolving collage. 

Have something you think I might be interested in?  I’d love to hear about it.  Share it here.

**

-I love everything about this: Jennifer Mendelsohn is a freelance journalist who uses historical documents point out the hypocrisy of public figures who display anti-immigrant sentiment.  She is also the creator of the hashtag #resistancegenealogy and MY NEW HERO.  Read this wonderful interview with her (and h/t to my friend Valerie for passing it along!)

“People in genealogical glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and we’re all in genealogical glass houses metaphorically speaking.”

 

-Related: Grace Chin is an artist who makes beautiful things out of paper and once sent me a complimentary piece of her work to hang in my classroom.  She’s also a self-described intersectional feminist and has some real smart things to say in this piece, “Do Artists and Designers Have an Obligation To Be Political?”

“In our capitalist, consumer-driven economy, the prospect of saying something divisive is daunting to artists whose livelihoods depend on a loyal following. We’ve been fooled into thinking that artists are beholden to their audiences, but the opposite should be true. Art is disruption. Art is seeing opportunities to intervene in the surrounding world and daring to imagine it differently, rather than accepting it as it is. Good art pushes the boundaries of public opinion, leading it to greater knowledge and greater empathy. Artists have that power; we should own it.”

 

-If you know me, you know that I believe in poems; this is a particularly beautiful one, and thanks to the American Academy of Poets, you can listen to it being read aloud by the author, which is one of the best things in the world.