long read

What do you think is worse,” she asked quietly, twisting her favourite bracelet around her wrist, “having your heart broken or breaking a heart?” Her friend glanced at her curiously but she wouldn’t meet his gaze. She couldn’t, not with the guilt that was clearly written across her face.
“It depends, I guess,” he replied carefully. “Having your heart broken is awful, especially in the exact moment it happens. You feel as though your airways have been cut. You forget how to breathe. At first you feel too much and then you’re in denial and feel nothing at all, just emptiness. But it gets better. Sometimes within months, and sometimes it takes you years to move on. But eventually you’ll heal.” She looked up, biting the inside of her cheek. “And if you break a heart?”
He hesitated, pointedly glancing at her wrist. “Well, you can’t break a heart and be careful about it. You can’t make it hurt any less, no matter how much you don’t want the person you love to be in pain. I’d say breaking someone’s heart scars you just as much as having your own heart broken.” When she didn’t say anything, he spoke again. “Are you about to break someone’s heart?” Slowly she took off her silver bracelet and placed it on the table. He recognised it now as it sparkled faintly in the bright light - it was the bracelet her boyfriend had given her on their first anniversary. “Yes,” she replied with tears in her eyes, touching the bare inside of her wrist, “I’m afraid I am.
—  Excerpt
n.j.

I was hired by NPR to cover the intersection of demographics and politics. My job required crisscrossing the country to talk to all kinds of voters. I attended rallies and town halls for nearly every candidate on both sides of the aisle, and I met people in their homes, churches and diners.

I am also visibly, identifiably Muslim. I wear a headscarf. So I stand out. And during this campaign, that Muslim identity became the first (and sometimes only) thing people saw, for good or for bad.

Reporter’s Notebook: What It Was Like As A Muslim To Cover The Election

Photo: Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Editor’s note: There is language in this piece that some will find offensive.

Important A-spec Allies PSA

Know what I don’t trust anymore? Any posts seemingly made for queer/lgbt+ people that use the phrases “straight people” or “the straights”, or that use the meme “thanks, sharon/janet/brenda/etc.”

Why? Because these phrases and that meme have become codes that SGA gatekeepers use to propagate anti a-spec sentiment. I’m not even exaggerating (though I wish I were). Every single queer/lgbt+ post I see nowadays that uses these codes (and there are a lot of them) is, if I check (which I do), made by an SGA gatekeeper. For ex. I’ve seen this one going around:

And, as you can guess, the OP is 100% an SGA gatekeeper.

These posts seem innocent and inclusive but they’re not. And I can promise you that many a-spec users on this site know these posts are meant to exclude them, even if they can’t articulate why they feel Othered like I can. That’s how slow, long-term propaganda works: it re-codes popular language by consistently placing it in specific contexts; that way, the audience will begin to unconsciously associate those terms with those contexts. In this case, SGA gatekeepers are consistently creating content that labels a-spec people as “straight”, and then consistently creating separate content that disparages “straight” people for intruding in spaces they don’t belong (particularly queer/lgbt+ spaces). 

And it’s working, because tons of a-spec inclusive bloggers are reblogging these seemingly innocent posts, thus giving sanction to their message. And as such, when SGA gatekeepers ALSO reblog those posts (fully understanding the true meaning), they gain authority through association with those other Trusted Bloggers. It’s the exact same tactic as using celebrity endorsement to sell makeup.

So when young queer/lgbt+ followers THEN see posts claiming that a-spec people are really just “straight intruders”? They start to trust those posts, start to doubt a-spec people. Because they see the SGA gatekeepers making the posts as part of a trustworthy front, and it’s hard to know what to do when everyone looks like the good guy. 

And so the cycle slowly continues. And a-spec people continue to see more and more anti a-spec sentiment on their dash, both covert and overt.

I don’t usually engage SGA discourse in any way because I prefer being actively inclusive instead, but this was too insidious for me to leave unaddressed. Due to current trends, I now consider it the responsibility of a-spec inclusive queer/lgbt+ people to vet community posts like these before reblogging. To actively try to remember this as often as possible. Especially those who aren’t a-spec themselves, because as non a-spec people, you won’t be as intuitively sensitive to the message underlying these posts but your a-spec followers will be. So please, make the effort to be aware and quickly vet these posts before reblogging. And if it turns out to be SGA-made, either call it out or don’t reblog. I know we can’t be perfect but I also know that with every SGA-made post that gains positive traction, a-spec people become more alienated. And if we don’t try to stop it then this tactic will succeed in its hatemongering. 

Thanks. And much love to all my black, non-white, disabled, neurodivergent, and intersex a-spec people out there. As well as the multi-spec and trans people taking shit for us and now also being called “straight”/”not lgbt” because of it. <3 Stay safe. You’re always welcome on my blog.

Reblog at will.

TLDR; Read The Bolded.

A mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer were in a hotel for a convention.

Then, in the middle of the night for no apparent reason, a fire breaks out in the engineer’s wastebasket. The engineer rushes over to the bathroom, empties out the ice bucket, fills it with water and pours it into the trash can, dousing the fire. Satisfied that the problem was solved, the engineer goes back to sleep.

Shortly thereafter, a fire broke out in the physicist’s wastebasket. The physicist rushes to the bathroom, whips out his calculator, frantically does a few computations, pulls out a cup, fills it to a precisely measured level, and rushes back to the wastebasket, pouring the water onto the fire. As the last drop hits the flame, the fire goes out. Satisfied that the problem was solved, the physicist goes back to sleep.

Finally, a fire breaks out in the mathematician’s room. The mathematician rushes to the bathroom, sees the ice bucket, sees a cup, sees the water faucet. Satisfied that the problem could be solved, he goes back to sleep.

No matter where she went, she kept falling in love. It was who she was, it was what she did, walking through life and letting it sweep her off her feet. You could find her up all night reading with a smile on her face, or studying for hours and waking up in the morning with smudges of ink beneath her eyes. She would sometimes call, simply to let him know how beautiful the sunset was and yelling at him to run over to a window or go outside, even though it always seemed like the same smears of pinks and oranges to him. One day, she said how there was nothing more precious in the world than watching people talk about something they loved, something they were passionate about. It was the glint in their eyes, she said, that fascinated her. That made her fall head over heels. She would find joy in the little things, like someone opening a door for her or a stranger smiling at her in the streets. It was a bliss to him to see her so happy all the time, but he wondered if she was the kind of person that came home after a long day, shut the door behind her and wiped the grin off her face. That caved in on herself like a house of cards caught in a gust of wind when no one was around. He hoped that she wasn’t, because he truly cared. Whatever she felt when she watched the sinking sun set the sky aflame, he felt it whenever he looked at her. 
No matter where she went, she kept falling in love. And sometimes he found himself praying that instead of falling in love with just everyone and everything around her, that she would fall in love with him.
—  About her #5

n.j.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.
—  Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

She slowly lowers her head and stares at the ground with her foot playing with the grass and started speaking.

“I keep asking myself if you really deserve someone like me. But at the same time, I want to be the only one who’s the best for you. It’s weird, I’m weird. I always try to put you up but look at me, always putting myself down. But I can’t really blame myself sometimes for feeling this.. Yes, I’m paranoid. I’m more than that, I’m afraid, I’m scared, and I’m all the words that could describe me as a weak person. I may be all those words but, I can say, I’m just so afraid that I might lose you. Not in the fact that you won’t let that happen though, but I’m afraid of them. That they might catch your attention, they can do things that I can’t, they can take you away from me. I’m afraid of that thought, but I become more afraid what I feel while thinking about it. Just thinking of being without you kills me. It’s like my heart is being ripped into two, it strikes me. It hurts just thinking about it, what more if that really happened? I should not be saying stuff like this, but sorry if I couldn’t avoid it. I couldn’t let you know how much I have died drowning in these negative thoughts but I just really want to tell you how much I’m afraid of losing you. ”

She said in a cracked voice and tears starts falling from her eyes continuously.

My heart felt like it was stabbed a hundred times. I was taken back by this sudden confession, I said to myself “I didn’t know she feels this way.” I held up her chin and wiped her eyes. Holding her head against my chest. She turns up looking at me, with eyes streaming with tears.

“I’m sorry if you feel that way. I’m sorry if I didn’t make you feel secure enough that someone can’t take me away from you or steal me from you. I’m sorry if you’re paranoid that someone might catch my attention. I’m sorry that you feel that. I’m sorry that the things I tell you are not enough to make you feel secure or relieved that it will never happen. But, once again, I’ve said that none of it will ever happen right? Because I already gave you my heart as a whole without any doubts and second thoughts. No one has the ability to have their hands on my heart because you already own it, baby. It’s you who captivated my heart, it’s you who had the strength to turn down my guarded walls, it’s you who found the key to unlock the chains and doors to my heart and it’s you who my heart chose to fall in love with. You’re the only one I want and nothing and no one can ever change that. Mark my words, it’s you who I want to love and no one else. Why do you keep asking yourself if I deserve you? If you ask me, I don’t know if that’s the right question. But, for me you are more than enough. You’re the best person that was ever given to me. I would risk anything just for you to stay and be with me for a lifetime. You deserve all the love I give you because you deserve to receive unconditional love. You deserve to be loved. I’m sorry if you feel scared and afraid, but I already sworn that I will never leave and you will never lose me. Because I can’t take it being away from you too. I guess that will be the death of me. Let just say that someone did try to take me away from you, will I let that happen? No. Do their efforts to make me notice them worked? No. Everything they do will be nothing and meaningless to me because all I want is the love you provide to me since you’re the one I loveand not him/her. It’s you who can put a wide smile on my face, the one who can make these butterflies swirl on my stomach endlessly, the one who can make me laugh a lot, the one who can melt my heart without you trying to and the one who can make me happy anytime and anywhere. All of them are you, baby. So please don’t be scared. I will never leave you, no one can take me away from you and no one can change these feelings I have for you. I assure you that. What are those things that they can do that you don’t? You can do them too, baby. But do you know the things they can’t do that you’re the only one can? You can make me smile and laugh even when I don’t want to. You can make me feel uplifted everytime I feel down. You inspire me all the time. You make all the tiredness I feel go away just by talking to you and knowing you are there for me. You can make me stop from crying. You can sweep away all the negative clouds surrounding my mind. You give me strength all the time. You make me feel loved when I feel unlovable. You make me feel pretty even when I always feel ugly. Let me ask you again, can they do that? No. You’re the only one can, so never compare yourself to them because you can do a lot of things for me that they will never can. Okay? Please, never think that way ever again because none of it is possible to happen. I’m sorry if I made you feel that way. I love you so much.”

I said. And, kissed her lips passionately.
She cried harder and said “I love you so much too.”

—  S.L

I’m not writing to you to tell you what you’ve done wrong. No, I think we moved past that point. Today I’m writing to you to tell you what you deserve.

You deserve to love someone who is ready to get lost in your eyes, who embraces your flaws and your quirks, who laughs at your horrible jokes like I did and who smiles in between kisses. You deserve someone who makes you smile so big that your cheeks hurt, someone who picks up the phone for you in the middle of the night and who’s there to hold the pieces of your world together when you feel like everything around you is falling apart.

And I’m so sorry.

I’m so sorry I couldn’t give you what you wanted and I’m sorry you weren’t what I expected. I know it’s not my fault and I know it’s not yours. Let’s put the blame on something we can’t control like bad timing or too much work or the weather, maybe? Something that makes us feel less responsible for ending something beautiful. Something that makes us remember a wonderful time for exactly what it was: talking deep into the night, stained coffee cups and dancing in the rain.

Even though it ended (not on good terms, either) I just wanted to wish you well. The happiness we had is the happiness you deserve for the rest of your life. I just wanted you to know. And I hope you never forget on nights that are too short and days that are too long for you to remember.

—  an open letter to you
n.j.

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ‘97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how many possibilities lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

—  Mary Schmich
What to Do When in a Reading Funk

Reading funk (n.) - a horrifying moment when you suddenly find yourself unmotivated to read; considered by some as a reader’s cardinal sin


I’ve been in this tragic state for a week, more or less, after finishing Colleen Hoover’s “It Ends with Us.” The story really affected me emotionally because of very personal reasons, which is also why I couldn’t (though I really tried) post my coherent final thoughts on it.

So, here I am, wading through reality without reading to anchor me. Of course, I couldn’t go on living without reading so here are a few things I did (and still doing, but praying to book heaven that it won’t be for long) to get me through my reading funk.

  1. Re-read a good ol’ fave. Just grab your fave book and read. Works like a charm every time. It feels like being reunited with an old friend (or maybe it’s just me). I’m currently re-reading Jay Asher’s “13 Reasons Why.” It may not seem like a wise move after being emotionally wrecked, but hey, a girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do (as quoted by every wise woman out there).
  2. Read whatever is in your way. Literally. Read old newspapers or magazines on the coffee table. Read ads, billboards or any infographic on your way to work/school. Read anything that catches your attention. As in, anything. Because, trust me, no one will judge you (as long as you do silent reading).
  3. Watch a movie/series. It may not be the same as reading, but it’s as good for coping with reality. Watch a movie/series adapted from a book. If it’s a book you’ve read before, you can list down the things they should have included in the movie/series (which, most of the time, is everything). Plus, there is always popcorn.

At the end of the day, I think going through a reading funk is fairly normal. And no, I do not consider it as a reader’s cardinal sin. Because, for me, a reader’s cardinal sin is to swear off reading once and for all.

This thing. Whatever it is for me. I don’t want to call it heartbreak because I don’t want to believe I was stupid enough to let you get that much of me. I don’t want to believe that after you cheated and after you did me so bad, that I had the will to let you get that much of me. It reminds me of getting blood taken. You give and give so much, all that is allowed, and after you do, it leaves you nauseas and you knew that it would have a few side effects but you had no idea that it could throw you to the ground after you thought you were stable enough to stand on your own. That’s what happened. That is what is happening. I feel stable one minute. I felt stable enough to go through and delete every picture I had of you which took away the visible memories. I felt stable enough to hide away our pictures that were on my wall so I didn’t have to see them every time I needed to sleep but couldn’t. I don’t think you loved me. I don’t want to think that, but if you were to love me as you say you did, no matter how incredibly wasted you were, I never would’ve had to hear her name. You don’t hurt the people you love in the ways that you hurt me. I wish I could say I don’t miss you. I wish I could trash talk you like ex’s are supposed to do, but no every time I hear a negative thing about you I’m always the first to defend you and I fucking hate that. I wish I could take it all back. Every kiss, every hug, every god damn thing but I can’t. It is there. And it’s on replay for me 24/7 and you can think whatever about me being so bitter about this and whatever. but my night terrors come rarely now and when they come it’s like the dreams I had of us all happy and fucking dandy are my worst nightmares. and that’s what fucks me up the most.
—  The letter I’ll never write you
The violence in Chicago is not just about what police are or are not doing. We have long-term issues. The economic support that we have to give these impoverished areas, the mental health treatment, better education, better housing - all of that stuff matters.
politico.com
The Bitter Feud Behind the Law That Could Keep Jared Kushner Out of the White House
By JOSH ZEITZ

“Don’t smile too much or they’ll think we’re happy about the appointment,” Senator John F. Kennedy told his younger brother, Robert. It was late 1960. Jack Kennedy, now president-elect of the United States, opened the front door of his stately home in Georgetown to inform a pack of awaiting reporters that he would name Bobby to the post of attorney general.

It was the worst-kept secret in Washington, and as the family expected, few seasoned political hands approved of the selection. “It is simply not good enough to name a bright young political manager, no matter how bright or how young or how personally loyal, to a major post in government,” the New York Times editorialized. Worse, a close associate later observed, “it was nepotism, I mean, he was the brother of the president.” Anthony Lewis, a veteran courts reporter, was “appalled … thought it was a simply awful idea.” Kennedy was “a zealot with no understanding of the terrible responsibilities of an attorney general.”

Bobby Kennedy has since become an American folk hero—the tough, crusading liberal gunned down in the prime of life. But his appointment at the age of 35 to a powerful government post—a post that he was singularly unqualified to hold—at the time struck many in Washington as irresponsible and inappropriate.

More than that, it rankled one very important person in particular—Lyndon Johnson, who loathed RFK intensely and must certainly have borne that hatred in mind when, in 1967, he signed into law a nepotism statute that, among other provisions, appeared to make it impossible for a president to appoint immediate family members to the Cabinet or, some argue, to the White House staff. (The law explicitly prevents “public officials” from promoting a “relative” “to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control.”) LBJ knew that the law would have no immediate bearing on the Kennedy family. But as one aide later noted, he “couldn’t be rational where Bobby”—whom he dubbed “that little shitass”—“was concerned.” Signing the bill must have felt good.

Read more here

npr.org
The Term 'Graphic Novel' Has Had A Good Run. We Don't Need It Anymore.
Coined in an era when comics were considered 'junk' culture, graphic novel is a hoary, meaningless, and often completely inaccurate term. Comics are comics; stop apologizing for them.

Hey Glen, did you hear? Last night, March: Book Three by Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell — the final book in their graphic novel trilogy about young Lewis’ experiences in the civil rights movement — won the National Book Award for young people’s literature!

I heard! It’s fantastic! Both the fact that it won, and the comic itself, which is a deeply moving, eye-level, feet-on-the-ground account of the era that shows just how much hard, punishing work it took to change America. Lewis and co-writer Aydin take time to dig into the kind of small, human moments of pain, anguish, doubt and fear that history books tend to breeze past. And Artist Nate Powell makes sure you feel all those emotions — as well as moments of joy and soaring triumph.

It ends up offering far more than a how-to on civil disobedience — ultimately, it’s a why-to: a searingly hopeful testament to the power of protest, and a celebration of the young people who sacrificed their safety to make the country a more just place to live.

Yeah, I figured you’d be happy. I know you’re a graphic novel guy, so.

… It’s not a graphic novel.

What?

That’s the second time you called it a graphic novel. Stop calling it a graphic novel. It’s not a graphic novel. For one thing, it’s non-fiction.

I just want you to know and keep in mind that you’re a beautiful person. It’s not your physical appearance that makes you beautiful, it’s the way you smile, the way you laugh, the way you still look beautiful even when you’re crying, the way you sleep, the way your face looks serious and even the way you make a wacky or funny face. It’s your personality, the way you’re kind and have a good heart. You are beautiful on the inside as much as you are beautiful on the outside. I never want to think that you are not, because that’s not true. Even your flaws make you unique and special and one of a kind. The imperfection you’ll see in your self will likely be my favorite about you. You are the sunshine I feel warming my face when the rain starts pouring. You are the one I can’t wait to introduce to my friends. You are beautiful and a complete sweetheart. You’re smile is a magic, it magically lightens me up. I love all the ugly parts of you you think you have, even though it’s not. You are beautiful for your good deeds, and even your sins. You are a wonderful being, you’re truly special. You have a good soul and a compassionate heart, that makes you even more beautiful. Even when you make mistakes. You’re far beyond beautiful.
And, I’m happy I’ll wake up soon next to my soulmate and fall asleep with every night. You’re the girl I’d always dream of waking up to and the same girl I’d always dream of holding me in her arms. It’s the little things that made me fall for you, even now, I still do. It’s the way you understand everything and everyone in difficult situations, it’s the way you talk to your friends, it’s the way you sing a song, it’s the way you laugh when you’ve done something epic, it’s the way you sneak glances at me when we’re together, it’s the way you hide your smile when I’m not looking, it’s the way you laugh at small things, it’s the way you hold my arm when we’re about to cross the road, it’s the way you walk when you walk me home, it’s the way you look when you don’t want to eat something, it’s the way you seek for positive things in negative outcomes, it’s the way you see through me even when I hide myself as much as possible, it’s the way you continue to be yourself and the list goes on. I just love all these little things about you, what more if I’ve said the great things about you? I often wonder how possible it is for you to be mine, but it doesn’t matter anymore. Because, I am grateful that you are mine. For every second I’ve thought of you, for every tear I’ve shed for you, for every minute I smiled because of you, for every love I gave to you, for every day I’ve spend with you.. I’ve been happy. Most of the days I want to tell you repeatively that I love you in person, so you can imagine how much I really do love you. I could even kiss you infinitely if you would allow me to. My heart is yours to take. I’m willing to cross an ocean for you, for us.
—  S. L // A message #3

Έχω ξεχάσει το πώς μοιάζεις, το πιστεύεις; Έχω ξεχάσει εσένα..εσένα που είσαι ό,τι πιο δυνατό ένιωσα. Αυτά κάνει ο χρόνος μακριά σου. Σε διαγράφει. Το μόνο που μου έχει απομένει από εσένα είναι η ιδέα σου, ένα βλέμμα, κάτι χαζές στιγμές, κάτι ξεθωριασμένες αναμνήσεις. Κλείνω τα μάτια μου και δεν μπορώ να σχηματίσω τη μορφή σου στο μυαλό μου. Έφυγες,ξεθώριασες. Πάντα ήθελα να φύγεις,επειδή δεν σε είχα ποτέ πραγματικά. Μα δεν ήθέλα να σε ξεχάσω. Ήθελα να μπορώ να θυμάμαι το πρόσωπό σου,ώστε μετά από χρόνια,όταν θα ξυπνήσω σε μια άλλη πόλη,σε ένα άλλο κρεβάτι,μόνη,να μπορώ να σε θυμηθώ,γιατί εκείνη την ημέρα θα νιώθω νοσταλγία και θα μου λείπεις. Ίσως μου λείπεις και τώρα. Τι σημασία έχει; Το μυαλό μου σε έχει ξεχάσει και η καρδιά όσο και να ζητάει να γυρίσεις πίσω,δεν υπάρχεις πουθενά μέσα μου. Έφυγες και σε άφησα.

npr.org
The Strange Truth Behind Presidential Turkey Pardons
Presidents have been pardoning turkeys for decades. But why? They used to eat them, actually. The history of the tradition is an odd and sad tale with lots of myths.

The annual presidential turkey pardoning event at the White House is a strange one. This year is President Obama’s eighth and last one, but he still seems confused.

“It is a little puzzling that I do this every year,” Obama said in 2014.

“I know some folks think this tradition is a little silly,” he said a year later. “I do not disagree.”

The president has made the event something of an annual dad joke.

“Time flies, even if turkeys don’t,” Obama said last year, flanked by his daughters Sasha and Malia. There was a long pause and eventual polite laughter from his daughters and audience. “You think it’s funny, too, don’t you?” the president said to the crowd.

There’s always lots of laughter for a lighthearted moment the day before Thanksgiving, but the truth behind turkey pardons is a strange and sad tale with a long and myth-filled history.

So who are these overstuffed fowl? Where did they come from? And how did this whole thing get started, anyway? We try to answer those questions, and more.

Continue reading

“Look at me and tell me you don’t love me anymore!” He said fiercely, with his hands gripping at my shoulders and shaking me.

“I don’t need to! I don’t love you anymore!” I said. Breaking my way out of his grip.

“If you don’t love me anymore, you can tell me that straight into my eyes.” He said with a tease and letting his arms fall down to his sides.

I step back away from him and said

“I knew you didn’t love me anymore when you decided to kiss her behind my back.” I waited for his response for seconds before walking away.

But, I paused. I gave him a last look and said, “I don’t need to look at you, you disgust me.”

—  S.L // Other ways of knowing you don’t love them anymore