Radium Girls

You hate a story about a corporate coverup. And you hate it the entire time because you get to know the humans who suffered, and you don’t know if they’ll be around to see justice served. You don’t know how people running these corporations are ok with concealing evidence and deceiving employees and the public about how dangerous working conditions were.

Many, many women suffered.

But they persevered. And they were loved and had tireless lawyers who did not stop until justice prevailed. Until regulations changed.

Their families and friends supported them. Loved them. Spoke fondly of them. And wistfully.

Heartbreaking.

And then other corporations can’t learn from the past and try the same shit.

Infuriating.

You hate it.

(But you love it because the story is so important, and its effects extend to our day. And your heart opens to the families of these sufferers.)

I guess there’s a Netflix movie about it. The review this photo came from said the movie could have been better.

Media Consumption And Stuff Update

TV: Mad Men Season 6; Superstore Season 6

Music: Birds of Chicago

Books: Radium Girls

Podcasts: Cold, Season 2

Clarinet: About an hour of practice that included reed adjusting.

Exercise: Digging around and chopping at some stumps in the yard with an axe for about 30 minutes

I wonder if I can keep this up. I mean, I even squeezed in a nap.

Schedule for Media and Stuff

There’s so much to watch. And listen to. And read. I need to find a way to get to it all. Let me try to break this down.

SunMonTuesWedThursFriSat
Books1 hour1 hour1 hour1 hour1 hour1 hour1 hour
Music1 hour2 hours1 hour2 hours1 hour2 hours1 hour
TV/Mov1 hour2 hours2 hours2 hours2 hours2 hours2 hours
Podc1 hour1 hour1 hour
Exer30 min30 min30 min30 min30 min

There are definitely more hours in the day than I have scheduled here, but these are minimum amounts.

More Quotes from Hood Feminism

Some powerful thoughts:

1. Feminism that encompasses all the issues that impact women, from poverty to criminal justice reform to living wages to better protections for immigrants to LGBTQIA issues, is feminism that ensures voting rights for all as a foundational issue.

2. For marginalized people, feminism is failing them by being so focused on whether middle-class white women have what they need and want, but not on protecting voting rights for everyone else.

3. Because institutions are not designed to help parents raise high-needs children, it becomes much easier to argue that children with disabilities are a burden to be avoided instead of addressing the paucity of resources.

4. Anger can be cathartic, motivating, and above all else an expression of the innate humanity of any community. Demands that the oppressed be calm and polite and that forgiveness come before all else are fundamentally dehumanizing.

Please read Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot, by Mikki Kendall. Straightforward, practical; applies ideas to real actions for including everyone in building feminist momentum for all marginalized communities.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Um, I got about three hours’ sleep last night.

Earlier this month or late last month I read somewhere that May, among other issue awarenesses, is also Mental Health Awareness month. According to Wikipedia, this month has been dedicated to spreading awareness since 1949. I definitely wasn’t aware of this. Does that reflect on the effectiveness of the campaign or my negligence? or both? Well, I’m trying to do something about it now. Know better, do better. Right?

Speaking of mental health, I’ve been reading a recently published biography, Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath. I’m about a third of the way through and the author discusses Plath’s depression in detail throughout the narrative: history, behavior, effect on her work.

I have many friends and some family members who are very open about their mental health. They will discuss their anxiety, depression, ideations, therapy sessions. I’ve come not to expect immediate responses to my texts or calls or emails. In fact, I’ll receive a text and feel a twinge of anxiety and wait until I can handle writing a proper reply. I’ll fight the urge to stay in bed. I’ll set a reminder to turn on my therapy lamp for a few minutes a day, especially in winter months. Still, this is nothing compared to what my friends and family experience.

These loved ones wrestle with themselves constantly. They’re brilliant, creative, deeeeeeply empathic. They care about the world so much.

Along with all the other things to think about this month, remember various communities that we should be supporting also have members whose mental health deserve our concern and attention. If you know them, check in on them. If you don’t know them, don’t be that weird person that interjects and invades and magnifies awkwardness and discomfort. You know how to be resourceful.

Friday, About Damn Time

I just booked a short camping trip in June. Close by. Yearly tradition, though we usually camp around July 4. And we didn’t do it last year because: pandemic. Very excited to be spending some time outdoors. With limited cell phone service. Woo-hoo!

Whenever I’m not thinking about the sheer crappiness of the world or the utter heartlessness of people, I’m actually in a great mood. Like, I’m allowed these moments of joy amidst the morass of …morassness. My family, my friends, my work. My hammock. My back yard. We’re not super rich; we’re pretty regular people. Still: this is privilege.

I’m reading a book, Hood Feminism, by Mikki Kendall. About halfway through, so far some really powerful points made. A few foods for thought:

Sometimes being a good ally is about opening the door for someone instead of insisting that your voice is the only one that matters.

We also need to stop normalizing hate and stop assuming hate speech is harmless, regardless of who it targets or who says it.

We can’t afford to keep pretending mental health issues stop at the boundaries of whiteness. Instead we have to be ready, willing, and able to embrace those for whom mental health is a struggle and to make sure that we aren’t contributing to their trauma under the guise of being helpful.

Even though I’m not Black, I did spend part of my childhood in poverty, and I observed and experienced systemic oppressions without really knowing what they were. And now I want to help so that others don’t have to live some of the experiences I did. If you can, check out this book.

And now, because it’s Friday, let’s throw back to my dazzling review of Rebecca Black’s hit song, “Friday.” Click this link, and … just prepare yourself for some overt tongue-in-cheekiness. Happy Friday, everyone. I’ll check in tomorrow and for the following 85 days, at least. Practice makes better.

Oh, dang. I just thought about posting while camping in June, limited cell phone service and all. Looks like I’ll have to plan ahead.

New and Improved 2017

Four days into 2017, and I’m lying in bed, sick with a cold. I wanted to start this year with bright eyes and a bushy tail, but instead I have watery eyes and a droopy tail. My nose is congested, but my mind is clear, and I might as well be doing something productive and reflective.

It’s been a while since I’ve set formal resolutions for the new year. It’s not that I don’t believe in them; it’s just that I see every day as an opportunity to improve. And that can sound like a copout, so here are my thoughts.

Two main categories stick out most for improvement: My interactions with others, and self-care. I want to be friendlier and kinder. I want to be an exceptional listener and strive to understand all sides of a story. A Christmas card I received said that I work with my team in a service-oriented way. Which I wasn’t aware that I did. But I guess it’s a thing that I do that’s become more or less second nature. I’m pleased about this, and I want to keep doing it.

I want to treat myself better, with higher esteem. This may amount to more concrete actions, such as regular hair appointments, massages; decent bedtimes; more honeytime with my husband; more playtime with my amazing daughter. But I also want to read more books and nourish my brain and body as best I can.

Blog/Write/Brainstorm more!

Stay away from Facebook: I’m on a break. I check in once in a while to see what friends are up to. If they’re up to anything mean-spirited, then I check out right away. I’m finding that I don’t really miss it.

Oh, yeah. Exercise. Do more of that. I’ll say at least twice a week.

But I got to get rid of this darn cold first.

Rest more.

Nay, Neigh

About a month ago, I finished Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. I’ve never seen the movie; the only McCarthy movie adaptation I’ve seen is No Country for Old Men, which I thought did a terrific job. I do know that Pretty Horses stars Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz, and I wonder if I could let myself believe that Damon’s character is 16/17 years old. I’d probably be okay with it, only because I adore Matt Damon. But I don’t know if I could accept Billy Bob Thornton making a movie from a Cormac McCarthy novel, only because I just don’t know about that guy. He creeps me out.

The movie also stars Henry Thomas, who takes me back to E.T. and especially Cloak & Dagger. I guess I can understand casting men in their late 20s (or so) in a movie meant to portray young men in their late teens aged and roughed up by the Wild West. But since I didn’t see All the Pretty Horses, instead of imagining Matt Damon and Henry Thomas, I actually used my imagination.

Of course, McCarthy’s language gets to me every single time. His integration of Spanish in this novel feels perfectly natural, and the lexicon referring to ranching in Mexico helped keep me engaged.  On my Kindle, I can put my finger on a word, and its definition pops up. That tool is pretty nifty. With some of the words in this novel, however, a few of them made it into the English dictionary, but most of them did not. I was okay with that.

One of my favorite excerpts:

The world’s pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower.

Right? How about that contrast and almost palpable effect? Here’s another:

They stood and watched him pass and watched him vanish upon that landscape solely because he was passing. Solely because he would vanish.

For me, this captures the entire tone of the novel. Vanishing points provide lengthen a field, deepen perspective, and create a little pocket of time-space to help us grasp the present before it becomes the past.

And, finally:

Sweeter for the larceny of time and flesh, sweeter for the betrayal.

When I first came across this phrase (which comes earlier than the previous excerpts), I looked around on the train and wondered if any of the other passengers felt the sheer power of the combination of these words. Larceny of time! Larceny of flesh! Could a word be so perfect, just so utterly perfect?

What should I read next?

One of Those Situations Where I Absolutely Kill It

A nice young man leads me behind the checkout desk toward the director’s office. I see she’s on the phone, but she waves me in and motions for me to sit down.

I try to tune out her conversation, but I can’t help internalizing an offer to help the person on the other end of the line. At the same time I try to take in details of her office without looking nosy.

She has books, of course. She has big plants. I like that.

She wears an olive green dress. I wear an olive green skirt. I wear brown shoes. She wears brown shoes and brown stockings. Fun coincidence, but I think it’s one of those unspoken connections.

She introduces herself and describes the interview process. She explains what the questions entail and asks if I’m ready to begin. I rub my hands together and say let’s go.

I sort of don’t believe that I rubbed my hands together. But it happened.

She starts out with questions like what do I do for fun, what role do librarians play today, what are my passions.

She asks about my leadership and  teamwork experience. What qualities make a good leader? A good team member?

She asks why I want to pursue a master’s degree in library science.

I elaborate on all the answers to these questions.

My armpits give away my nervousness and adrenaline levels. Thanks a lot, armpits.

As I give examples in my answers and talk in paragraphs, which is something I generally don’t do in everyday conversation because most of the time I talk in sound bites and snide remarks, she nods and gives affirming feedback. This encourages me. I feel I could keep talking.

Throughout our conversation, I catch how her eyes agree with my answers and the momentum I gain carries me through to the end.

She makes me feel as if I’m already a librarian.

We make good time. She says I’m doing a terrific job. She wraps up the interview and asks if I have any questions for her. I listen to her describe the timeline for the different tracks within the program. She talks about getting me involved in networking and conferences and I wonder if I should have worn a darker shirt. A black one, because I can’t stop sweating. The anxiety about sweating makes more sweat. We know how it works.

She said that I seemed really in tune with what the program is about, and that she would strongly or highly recommend me. She says that I seem a perfect fit, and I say it feels pretty good. She’s pleased.

Then I ask her what her favorite part of her career has been.

This is a nice way to end an interview for me because I get to hear someone talk about a career she loves. In this particular situation, we both finish confidently.

Thanks to those who answered polls about whether I should pursue an MLS or an MFA (though the MFA may still be in the future) and about times where I have been a good team member. All of you were extremely helpful.

Thanks to those who have supported me in whatever decisions I make even though it takes me years to make up my mind.

Thanks also to Reilly for taking the day off to drive and give moral support, as well as setting off the alarm at the library where I interviewed by bringing a book from a different library. That was great.

Now, it’s just a matter of waiting to see if I get in. I don’t mind waiting.

Another Book I’m Reading

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach

I just started reading this, and asterisks twinkle sporadically throughout the text. Because the content is so interesting and the style is so quirky, it’s actually quite hard to not look toward the bottom of the page to see what the asterisks mean.

So far, the book is about eating. Later on, I’m sure the book will also be about pooping, because that’s a part of the “adventures” in the title. I’m currently in a chapter about how organs are very, very nutritious and American culture grimaces at the thought of eating narwhal skin, for example.

But, footnotes. Chapter 3–entitled “Liver and Opinions”–describes an experiment where scientists served children 16- to 29-months different things to taste, for “until kids are around two, you can get them to try pretty much anything.” Among the lowest-accepted items was human hair. An asterisk bedazzled the word hair, so I rushed to read the corresponding footnote and now I have to share it with you. If you’re squeamish, I suggest you ignore it, but if you can detach, here you go:

Compulsive hair-eaters wind up with trichobezoars–human hairballs. The biggest ones extend from stomach into intestine and look like otters or big hairy turds and require removal by stunned surgeons who run for their cameras and publish the pictures in medical journal articles about “Rapunzel Syndrome.” Bonus points for reading this footnote on April 27, National Hairball Awareness Day.

I read that last sentence and felt I’d missed out on serious bonus points. Still, I feel that I shouldn’t be giving myself so much credit for reading a book with so much  gross-out potential, because it’s actually a lot of fun to read. If you’re in the mood for some fun science writing and need a break from dense literature (like I do), check out this book.

Back to reading before dinner.