So maybe it’s just because I’m still a little woozy from my cold medicine (summer colds, bah!) but this morning I was reading a thread where someone asked how to help their twelve year old cousin who was feeling bad about the way she looked, and somebody posted this poem in response and I legit teared up a little bit.
“when your little girl
asks you if she’s pretty
your heart will drop like a wineglass
on the hardwood floor
part of you will want to say
of course you are, don’t ever question it
and the other part
the part that is clawing at
will want to grab her by her shoulders
look straight into the wells of
her eyes until they echo back to you
you do not have to be if you don’t want to
it is not your job
both will feel right
one will feel better
she will only understand the first
when she wants to cut her hair off
or wear her brother’s clothes
you will feel the words in your
mouth like marbles
you do not have to be pretty if you don’t want to
it is not your job”
— it is not your job | Caitlyn Siehl
Even rereading it now, I’m not feeling it in quite the same punch-in-the-gut way I did when I first read it. For a second, though, it really sent me back to the way it felt to be twelve, when Being Pretty was this exhausting, all-consuming grind of a thing, a responsibility I had been assigned and was failing at, every single second of every day. That’s mostly what I remember from that age - this insane sense of incompetence and shame and failure. I didn’t know what the hell to do with my hair, with my clothes, with my skin, with my stupid face. The only reassurance you found anywhere - not even from other people, but from TV and magazines and movies - was that you would eventually stop being bad at your job and get good at it. Either you were already pretty now, and didn’t realize it, or you would get pretty later, or someone would come along who would think you were pretty even if no one else did. Sometimes, there was a glimmer of the suggestion that if you were really deep and smart and soulful, you might not care that much about being pretty, but there was always the suggestion that 1.) being pretty was still fabulous and wonderful, even if you were doing your best not to care about it (like not eating chocolate cake when you were on a diet, or something) and 2.) Pretending not to care about being pretty would actually make you pretty, and the moment you truly Did Not Care was the moment that somebody would sweep in and recognize your unaffected, natural Prettiness. The idea that prettiness was actually a real fucking tiresome grind, and that caring about it was a burden you could just put down and then walk away and do something else - I don’t know if such a concept could have penetrated my brain at that age, but if it had, it would have been such an incredible, incomprehensible relief.
It’s 12:30 on a Saturday night and Schuyler’s in New York so what else would I be doing but reading years-old Metafilter threads about the way people in other cultures express the sentiment that’s the way the cookie crumbles?
And this one made me laugh out loud:
In a recent speech, Iran’s president Ahmadinejad used an (apparently slightly vulgar) phrase that translates to “the bogeyman snatched the boob.” According to a piece I heard on NPR, the phrase is used by mothers weaning their children, and has come to have the general meaning that while something good was lost or stolen, one should just suck it up and deal with it.
I honestly cannot tell you how much it pleases me to imagine an Iranian mother snatching her breast away from her nursing child and shouting grumpily,”No! The bogeyman has snatched the boob!” Or maybe she says it sort of fake-sympathetically, like “Ohhh, honey, I’m so sorry, I know you are hungry, but the bogeyman has snatched the boob.” And then when the child tearfully confronts her about this transparent but disturbing lie (I’m imagining the kid is like 3 in this scenario) she takes him on her knee, clears her throat, looks him in the eye, and dispenses this age old wisdom: “My son, I see you are upset, but when something good is lost or stolen, one must just suck it up and deal with it.”
It’s the ‘You get what you get, and you don’t get upset,’ of terrifying Iranian mothers. Definitely filing this expression away in case I ever have children.
Re: [Prairie Schooner] Submission: The Dim Shapes Get Clearer Every Day.
Although we have decided against using “The Dim Shapes Get Clearer Every Day,” we were interested in it and would be glad to see more of your work between Sept. 1 and May 1.
Before this one came in, I also got two other flat rejections via old-school SASE’s, one from Noon and one from Agni, so I don’t want you to think I only post the ‘good’ rejections. So far, I have never followed up one of these encouraging let-downs with more work, which I know is unprofessional, but it’s mostly because the story I sent them is the only one I have like it. What am I going to do, follow up my gothic imitation-Gilman ghost story with my YA-targeted humorous essay about phone sex? That just seems confusing.
I know I’ve made jokes about the intern reading the slush pile before, but having received a fair number of these nicer rejections (check out that humblebrag) and having also followed up with a handful, I am pretty confident they indicate that the submission made it past the first (intern-y) round of readers and was then sent up to an editor, who spent four or five months not reading it before passing on it via a nicer note that’s mostly meant to make up for the extra time you spent waiting to hear back.
That said, I will never stop imagining the staff at these magazines sitting around the table and passionately discussing my story every week for months on end, loudly arguing its merits and flaws as they pit it against the only other contender, a lost Hemingway short story that was recently unearthed from the archives. In the end, it’s 3 am; they’re exhausted and the deadline is the next day. In the dim and smoky room, they put it to a vote, and the Hemingway story wins by one tentatively raised hand. The idealistic young editor who championed my story from the beginning bursts into tears and runs out of the room. She is followed into the hallway by the experienced editor-in-chief, who lays his hand heavily on her shoulder. You made a good case in there, Millie, he tells her. But it’s a rigged game, always has been. Still, good work gets read eventually. It may take months, it may take years, but someday, this story will find the audience it deserves. You have to believe that. Otherwise, what’s the point in any of it? She sniffs and nods, wiping her tears away with the back of her hand. I do believe it, she says, I do. Then she bravely walks back to her office, opens up her email, and begins typing, wincing a little at the understatement: Dear Kristen, Although we have decided against using The Dim Shapes Get Clearer Every Day…
Joshua Rothman on “the impossible decision” of whether or not to go to graduate school, and tough decisions in general: “There are too many unknowns…It’s too unclear what happiness is…These bigger mysteries make the grad-school decision harder.” http://nyr.kr/10x9uqf
On the flip side of this - I heard about the Marathon bombings minutes after they happened, when my sister, a CNN producer in New York, posted to social media asking me - and the rest of my Boston-based family - if we were ok. My phone wasn’t on because I was in the library, but I saw her Facebook post immediately. I told my friend, who was sitting next to me in the library and whose brother was running the marathon (he had already finished, and was safe.) Both of us got through to our families and checked in with them before any of the mainstream media producers had gotten a story out, and before the phones were clogged up by people calling back and forth. My parents both knew I was ok before they’d even heard about the attacks. In other words, for us, social media meant that we got the news that was relevant to us (that our friends and family were safe) before we heard anything else.
In contrast, when my sister and I were in New York on September 11, I was in class and heard about it on the radio, of all things. It took almost an hour to get through to my parents - and through them, to get news about my sister. That hour was a nightmare, and it was made worse by the fact that our only source of information was the unidirectional flow of terrifying information from the TV in the common room. My memory might be wrong about this, but I swear in those first few hours, the TV news was full of as much misinformation as Twitter was after the Marathon, but there was no way to verify it or to check competing sources. I have a particular memory of being briefly under the impression that bombs were falling on Washington DC- (I think the result of some confusion about rumors that flight 93 had been shot down over Pennsylvania by fighter jets, the news about the Pentagon, and repeated use of the phrase “America is under attack.”) Once I got the news from my family, I turned the TV off and never really turned it back on again to get news about the events, because just that one hour had been so overwhelming.
In other words, I’m not disputing anything that was written here, but for me, the ability to have some control of the firehose of information via social media and alternative news outlets was well worth the (possibly) larger amount of speculation that took place on those platforms.
are oranges named orange because they’re orange or is orange called orange because oranges are orange
which came first: the orange or orange
Orange was first used to refer to the fruit around 1300 but not used as a color word until around 1540.
then what was the colour called before then
there was no colour everything was in black and white
Not as ridiculous as you might think: listen to this mind-blowing episode of Radiolab about the the “discovery” of the color blue.
Xander being all pissy about the bad things Angel did when he was Angelus is just as dumb as someone blaming Xander for the people he ate when he was a hyena.
help I’ve fallen and am perfectly capable of getting up but refuse to