MONDAY MIX – 1/15/18

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.

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-If you’re in the Houston area, please join me tonight for the 8th (!) annual Valentines for Veterans at Saint Arnold Brewing Company.  This event grew out of a little gathering between friends and has become a warm and wonderful community event that raises money for Expedition Balance, a local organization that does really important and thoughtful work supporting veterans as they transition back into civilian life.

If you’re not in the Houston area or can’t attend tonight, but know someone who is a veteran – please submit their mailing address via our website!  We mail handmade valentines and notes of gratitude out to any and every veteran whose address we receive.

 

-I am very, very proud to be a part of the soon-to-be-published anthology, Modern Loss.   The book contains first-person narratives from over forty contributors, sharing about the various textures and nuances that make up the strange terrain of grief.  This is EXACTLY the kind of book I went looking for after my dad died, but nothing like it existed – which is why I plan to buy a bunch of copies and keep them on hand for when life, invariably, throws someone I love a curveball.  Won’t you preorder a copy?

 

-I wrote a non-Monday-Mix blog post last week, about magic and women and how narratives are constructed.  Hoping to continue with additional posts about  books and teaching and the reading experience.  This one’s called “Rebel Girls Are Magic.”

 

-Last, but most important – if you have never read Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” today is the day.  If you’ve read it but it’s been a while, today is the day.  Read it aloud with a family member or friend.  Marvel at how it sounds so timely, even though it was written nearly fifty-five years ago.  Resist the urge to think of this man as universally beloved, speaking what everyone can agree on was the truth; remember that he was a radical who was viewed unfavorably by the majority of Americans in the years leading up to his death.

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

MONDAY MIX – 1/8/2018

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.

**

-Jill and I rarely make it to the movies, but when we were gifted some last-minute babysitting by our friend Kym, we decided to head to a theater to see Call Me By Your Name and I am so glad we did.  The movie was Jill’s choice – I’d heard of it, vaguely, but not read anything about it, so the whole film unfurled as an immersive experience for me, one which left me deeply moved (and also ready to jump on the next plane to Italy).  I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

 

-If you’re making yourself a reading list for 2018, or have an bookstore gift card to burn, I highly recommend Roxane Gay’s list of books she read in 2017.  With category titles like “A Memoir that Was Really Very Extra but the Writing Was Fine and the Book Certainly Held My Prurient Interest,” you’re sure to find something that you want to read, but also be amused in the process.

 

-And, on this day-after-the-Golden-Globes, as we move into awards season, I feel it my responsibility to endorse Go Fug Yourself, the only fashion/celebrity site I pay any attention to.  I do this because the writers behind it, The Fug Girls (Heather & Jessica), are whip-smart, witty, and really thoughtful.  They talk about pretty dresses, but also stuff that matters, and I just love them.  If you need a little entertainment in your day, I highly recommend checking them out!

 

MONDAY MIX (CHRISTMAS EDITION) – 12/25/17

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, this is Christmas–a strange one for us, as my mother-in-law died on Saturday evening, just after 7:00 pm.  Her death was peaceful, for which we are grateful, and she died at home, surrounded by loving family.

Naturally, our experiences over the past few weeks have had me thinking about the ways that we as a culture do–and don’t–process and deal with aging, death, and grief.  Though it’s an inevitability for us all, we tend not to know what to do when it happens to us or someone we love.

-Since the death of her husband in 2015, Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg has been on a mission to change that; along with Wharton professor Adam Grant (whose On Being interview is a favorite), she’s been advocating the “Just show up” approach.  Though most of us instinctively say “Let me know if I can do anything,” those words effectively shift the burden to the person already dealing with a difficult time.  In this piece for USA Today, Sandberg & Grant discuss what to do instead, and run through other common (if well-meaning) mistakes we sometimes make around the holidays when it comes to friends who are grieving or in crisis.

-Though I’d planned to spend the last week working through a large stack of exams and final projects, my brain was too distracted to effectively focus on grading.  Instead, as has been the case at other bedsides, I turned to fiction, specifically Victor LaValle’s The Changeling, which I have been eager to read for months.  A friend just generously loaned me her copy, and it could not have landed at a better time–it’s one of my favorite pieces of fiction in recent memory.  I’ve nearly finished it, but have left the final pages to savor, maybe tonight after Shiv goes to bed.

-I had some ambitious baking projects planned for this Christmas (like this amazing-looking trifle, which I may yet manage to pull off for New Year’s Eve), but they had to be set aside for obvious reasons.  Still, Shiv & I managed to do a little baking together–one of my favorite traditions–yesterday afternoon.  Since he & Jill both adore the orange-chocolate combination, I’d set my eye on this orange-chocolate madeline recipe and it did not disappoint.  They felt fancy, but weren’t difficult to pull off, which is exactly what we needed.

Sending everyone much love this Christmas Day.

(BELATED) MONDAY MIX – 12/19/17

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’m a day late with this week’s mix, and my post from this weekend might help contextualize why.  Jill continues to keep vigil at her mom’s side, along with a wonderful team of hospice nurses; since Jill’s mom was a nurse herself, they consider her one of their own and advocate fiercely for her care.

-For the last few years, I’ve looked forward to the Bitter Southerner’s Best Southern Albums of the Year.  The list always seems to arrive right when I need new music in my life (helllooooo giant pile of grading), and I’ve discovered so many now-beloved artists this way: Run the Jewels, Valerie June, Hurray for the Riff Raff, John Moreland, Leon Bridges, Shakey Graves.

-Another list I look forward to each year is Brain Pickings’ curated selection of Loveliest Children’s Books of the Year.  These books are always visually stunning, as well as substantive & meaningful in content, so it’s a great list to use when purchasing books for a birthday party or friends who are expecting a baby.

-Before things got really crazy, I managed to spend several hours in my kitchen doing some holiday baking.  I stuck to old favorites, to keep the margin of error low, and was able to mail some care packages off & deliver a few boxes of baked goods to friends and family, which made my heart happy.  Here are a few recipes I can enthusiastically recommend:  coffee + cardamom shortbreads (super easy to make & a brilliant flavor combination), hazelnut + dark chocolate meringues (I subbed in pistachios & they were still delicious), my most favorite rugelach of all time (super high-maintenance, yields a zillion cookies, TOTALLY WORTH IT).

Sending everyone love during this complicated, weird, wonderful time of year.  xx

MONDAY MIXTAPE – 12/11/17

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.

**

-My friend Aisha interviewed Kiese Laymon for the LA Review of Books and I have such intellectual crushes on both of them that I could barely read the thing without, like, vibrating up out of my chair.  I’m just so delighted that this conversation happened, let alone that we get to read parts of it.  Can’t even choose a place to quote from because the whole thing is so good and has given me so much, personally, on which to chew.

 

-This piece hit close to home, quite literally: How a Pearland Mom Changed Her Life to Save Her Transgender Child.  The title is super click-bait-y, but the piece is written with nuance, a testament to what love can look like if we let it and how humbling parenting can be:

“A year ago, if you’d said to me, You know, you’re going to consider someone who identifies as a queer transgender man one of your best friends, I would’ve been like, No,” she said, smiling.”

 

-A whole rash of pieces–including this one from Vanity Fair–have appeared in the last few days, in response to former Facebook executives expressing “regret” over the work that went into designing the site, given its impacts on society as a whole.  I spend a lot of time thinking about social media and its impacts, both as it applies to me personally and also as it shows up with my students.  Stopping short of making any sweeping conclusions (and I fully acknowledge the irony of the fact that I’ll be sharing this blog post on Facebook) but I’m fascinated, and convicted by, the conversation.

 

-Last but not least, and on a lighter note, if you’re looking for a holiday beverage, my friend Valerie recently made this pear and rosemary sangria and it was SUPER delicious.  I’m not usually a white wine sangria gal, but this one won me over–it’s not too sweet and very festive.  Valerie says she used a Pinot Grigio for her version, though the recipe says Sauvignon Blanc would also work.  I think it’s definitely a recipe you could fiddle with to your liking!