This Is How You Start A Personal Essay

“When I entered the job market, in 2017, I was mistaken for a prostitute.”

Carlyn Ferrari in ‘You Need to Leave Now Ma’am’.

“I learned to present a highly curated version of myself. I smiled. I made small talk. I exchanged pleasantries. I suppressed the urge to remind colleagues of my expertise during meetings, knowing that my tone or dissenting opinion would be perceived as angry, intimidating — or worse — insubordinate.

I listened as my first-generation students and students of color cried in my office and talked about how they felt they didn’t belong. Though it broke my heart, I treasured these visits. I had more in common with these students than my colleagues. Like me, they were brought in to “diversify” the campus. They had no support and neither did I. Every time they spoke their truth, I felt like a fraud for hiding mine.”

Covid School, Day 1: Zzzzzz….

By Simon Bazelon. When students have more common sense than the adults.

“In a recent Board of Alders hearing, the superintendent explained that the early start time is intended to keep students in their usual routine. But we need to recognize that we’re all out of our routines already and participating in a different kind of school. Navigating school online during a pandemic is difficult enough without the added challenge of a lack of sleep.

Second, classes should be shortened. Eighty minutes is simply too long to expect students to focus on an online lesson. Teachers should include intermittent breaks when students can get away from their screens, and should consider not using up the full block of class time.”

Weekend Required Reading

Three day weekend in the United States, so I expect local readers to read all of these especially closely. 

1. Online Privacy Should Be Modeled On Real World Privacy. Gather round, John Gruber is fired up.

“Just because there is now a multi-billion-dollar industry based on the abject betrayal of our privacy doesn’t mean the sociopaths who built it have any right whatsoever to continue getting away with it. They talk in circles but their argument boils down to entitlement: they think our privacy is theirs for the taking because they’ve been getting away with taking it without our knowledge, and it is valuable. No action Apple can take against the tracking industry is too strong.”

2. The Secret Adjustment Factor Tesla Uses to Get Its Big EPA Range Numbers. Outsmarting its competitors.

3. In Washington State, the revolving door between government service and lobbying is well-greased. 

“Washington’s revolving door received renewed scrutiny last year when then-state Sen. Guy Palumbo, a Democrat, resigned his seat to become a state lobbyist for Amazon. Prior to stepping down, Palumbo had been the prime sponsor of a bill to require state agencies to adopt cloud computing solutions for any new information technology investments. In urging his colleagues to approve the bill, which passed the state Senate but died in the House, Palumbo touted Washington’s homegrown cloud computing companies. ‘Namely Microsoft and Amazon who are the worldwide leaders in this space, Palumbo said at the time.”

How to get rich? Step one, get elected.

4. Police reforms face defeat as California Democrats block George Floyd-inspired bills. This is the substantive stuff to pay attention to as the media spotlight shifts.

5. The man who defied death threats to play at the Mastershttps://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32234719. My friend RZ loves golf. The Masters is his favorite tournament. He’s also a sociologist who studies Blacks in the elite. This one is for him.

6. ‘Greatest Met of All Time’: Tom Seaver Is Mourned Across Baseball. How can anyone read that and conclude you have to be mean and nasty to be an elite athlete?

(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

The Antidote To Loneliness

Every day, the Good Wife loads her car with buckets of garden tools and drives 8 miles to the church garden. Where she picks weeds, waters, and harvests the veggies and fruit of her labor. Beforehand, some days, she kayaks north along the edge of the Salish Sea before dipping into Gull Harbor to watch birds, admire sand dollars and other underwater life, and occasionally swim.

Newish neighbors with deep pockets recently clear-cutted their lot to build a very large sport court where I’ve never seen them or their children play tennis, basketball, or anything else.

Compared to the private Sport Courters, the Gal Pal is living life in public. Which means she meets people. And talks to them. From a safe distance these days.

Yesterday it was a school-aged boy on a bike. Well, she’s pretty sure it was a boy. Hair halfway down his back, his opening line was, “Cool garden.” They were off and running from there. A few weeks ago it was a random neighbor who left with some healthy food. 

The other night, at dusk, she cajoled me into dipping into the Salish with her. “WHY IS THERE SO MUCH STUFF IN THE WATER?!” She yelled at her native fishing friend who, because he’s native, is permitted to use large nets. When kayaking, she’s taken her time to get to know him. “I’M NOT SURE. THERE’S NO CURRENT EITHER AND THERE SHOULD BE!” Tonight’s salmon dinner will be compliments of him.

The church garden is what Eric Klinenberg calls “social infrastructure”, public places where people talk to one another. Same with our beach. The Gal Pal’s conversations with long-haired boys on bikes and fishermen is church. If church is about social connection.

If you’re lonely, know many others are too. Instead of a radical transformation, put a mask on, and at least once a day, leave the comfort of your private world and talk to someone, no matter how briefly. They’ll be a touch less lonely and so will you.   

Monday Required Reading

1. What Happens When No One Invites You to Their Pandemic Pod?

“We have lost the everyday distractions — the small talk at the school drop-off and pickup line, the banter at the office, the often tedious networking events. ‘We were able to avoid the fact that we were lonely before this because we could stay busy with a whole bunch of people.'”

2. Trends in anxiety among adults in the United States, 2008-2018: Rapid increases among young adults.

“The results from this study suggest poorer mental health in the US in terms of increasing anxiety overall and among most sociodemographic subgroups over the past 11 years. These findings should be considered in conjunction with other data that show increasing mental health problems of other types (e.g., depression), as well as the role of anxiety as a precursor to or indicator of severity of co-occurring mental health problems. Focusing resources on reducing anxiety, especially among young adults, is a cost-effective clinical and public health approach to stemming the tide of this problem; this would set the foundation for a healthier society in the future, as young adults age and adolescents reach adulthood.”

What resources mores specifically? 

3. Sea swimming is ‘amazing’ for mental health and menopause. Thanks to the Good Wife’s example, in the spirit of that video, I floated on my back in the Salish Sea near dusk last night despite less than ideal conditions. I can attest to the mental health assertion at least. And shouldn’t it be womenopause?

4. 8 Strategies to Improve Participation in Your Virtual Classroom. Teaching on-line makes me anxious! One week to go, wish me well.

 

When Families Fray

From Steve Mnuchin Tried to Save The Economy. Not Even His Family Is Happy.

“Robert Mnuchin’s wife, Adriana, has reminded people that she is not Steven’s biological mother. (The couple married when he was a toddler.) She reluctantly attended Steven’s 2017 wedding to the Scottish-born actress Louise Linton. Ms. Mnuchin pretended her arm was injured in order to avoid having to shake hands with Mr. Trump, according to her grandson Zan Mnuchin Rozen.”

Saturday Required Reading

  1. Exercise May Boost Your Vaccine Response. Not exactly groundbreaking, still, I should prob start working out.
  2. I Don’t Know If My Relationship Will Survive The Pandemic. “Forced to live in close quarters without access to any outside support or reprieve, overwhelmed by the additional parenting responsibilities and unable to access any kind of affordable child care, we were fighting more and understanding each other less.” Whew, I have nothing but empathy for the people Campoamor writes about.
  3. Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Departure Brings Relief on Liberty University’s Campus. “We almost had a monarchy, but you don’t see that at any other university, where presidents are chosen based on their skills and abilities,” said Tavia Bruxellas, a senior who is president of the student government Senate. “Everybody just sees Liberty as this big Republican university, and students are really tired of that.” Here’s hoping the country is sufficiently anti-monarchy in two months time.
  4. University of Pittsburgh announces required course on racism for incoming students. “It’s forcing you to rethink your own habits and your own behavior, the things you’ve come to view as normal,” said Ottley, a neuroscience major. “Students take history classes; they take culture classes. That doesn’t always mean they’re looking at how colonialism affected you, how history has transcended and repeated itself.” I would humbly suggest the requisite introspection content like this requires can’t be forced. I even wonder if requiring the course may detract from it’s potential positive effect. The greater curricular challenge is to design the course so that its value is self-evident to a vast majority of students and they want to enroll in it.
  5. Teacher turns desks with shields into tiny trucks to make first graders comfortable with social distancing.
  6. Why There Are So Few Moderate Republicans Left. And Democrats. Doesn’t bode well for our future.

“I Don’t Think People Understand, Especially White People”

Robert Horry shares raw, emotional conversation he had with his son about Jacob Blake.

“And I tell my kids all the time, I say ‘dude, I don’t care what’s going on, because at the end of the day, I want you coming home to me. If you have to lay down on the ground and they can kick you, beat you – at least you’re going to go to the hospital, you’re going to come home to me. Whatever they say to you, don’t take it upon yourself to let that rage you have against that cop come out. Because he has the gun. He can end you.”