Sickness and shutdown

A cafe in Budapest, Hungary. © E.A. Crunden

A cafe in Budapest, Hungary. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Cape Town could be the first city in the world to run out of water. A jailed Ethiopian opposition leader has been freed. Zimabwe will hold elections this year. One of the country's opposition leaders died in a helicopter crash. Uganda may resume use of the death penalty. 

Americas. While in Chile, Pope Francis accused victims of sexual abuse of "slander." Sao Paulo in Brazil is at risk for yellow fever. DACA is going to the Supreme Court. China outranks the U.S. when it comes to world leadership. Shutdown

Asia & Islands. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas accused Trump of destroying the Oslo accords. Palestine voted to rescind recognition of Israel until Israel recognizes Palestine. Tibet, Taiwan, and China. Suicide bombings in Baghdad killed dozens of people. The Koreas will march under the unity flag at the Olympics. Rohingya Muslim leaders issued their list of demands before returning to Burma. New Zealand's prime minister is living her best life.

Europe. Macron flips on immigration. A Kosovo Serb politician's murder has enflamed ethnic tensions in the region. Romania has its first female prime minister. Belgium will offset some of the funding UNRWA has lost from the U.S.


Spoken & Written

"Larry, you do realize now the women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time are now a force, and you are nothing? The tables have turned, Larry. We are here. We have our voices. And we are not going anywhere. And now, Larry, it's your turn to listen to me." -- Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman to Larry Nassar, her abuser


Me

Journalism: I spoke with advocates and experts about the diversity visa program, which isn't a real lottery, has merit-based components, and serves a crucial role in the U.S. immigration system. The White House keeps flip-flopping on DACA and the wall. Trump trampled a Republican plan to fund CHIP at the expense of DACA. The "ultimate deal" isn't going so well. Another day, another false nuclear missile alert. The Trump administration is slashing millions in aid to Palestinians. The peace games cometh.

Anything goes:

The past few years have wildly changed how I talk about and interact with bodies, as well as the things bodies produce. This is partially because both the person I live with and one of my best friends both actively discuss shit, to such an extent that I would be unable to function if I failed to adjust my own bandwidth for toilet conversations. But here's something they (and everyone else I know) doesn't talk about: vomit.

An important thing to know about me is that I barely function. For the past two years or so I've labeled a lot of my ongoing misery something that may or may not actually exist with the label "chronic nausea." I have a number of undiagnosed health problems unrelated to mental health (have plenty of those as well) and virtually all involve my body's inability to function the way I assume bodies should, allowing me some relative level of comfort in exchange for healthy eating practices and due diligence. Migraines, stomach pain, and a bad back are the most enduring symptoms, but the underlying one is unexpected, unstoppable nausea. 

My entire life has been an exercise in physical misery; everything hurts, all the time. When I was little I used to whine and cry about this and my mother would smack me over the head and tell me no one likes people who complain and feel sorry for themselves. These days everything still hurts but I'm quieter about it (when I can be.) A loft of the misery has been muted since I took a number of drastic steps to fix the problem -- I became a vegetarian, I started making food almost entirely from scratch, I avoid most eggs and dairy that I can't closely monitor and source, I exercise regularly, and I try to listen to my body. That usually gets me through about half of every month. The other half, well. 

I woke up at 4 a.m. on Friday and proceeded to throw up for nine hours. It was #GovernmentShutdown day, I had a large passion piece on diversity visas publishing, with both a happy hour and a friend's birthday party planned for after work. Instead I spent half the day in bed, shuddering and miserable, before finally keeping down a croissant and managing some caffeine to deliver me from a relentless headache. It's not the first time I've lost an important day to an eating mishap, or a body mishap, or just something about me in general failing to do its job. But it was still frustrating. I treasure my Fridays, the days when I work from home, multitasking writing with laundry, recycling, planning, and precious time alone. This one vanished into a toilet, along with the contents of my stomach, making everything somehow even worse than it would have been had I gotten sick on any other day.

In the midst of this -- the throwing up, the lost day, the misery -- I thought back to every time I've tried to discuss vomit with friends (or anyone.) It's such an enduring part of my life and I'd love to be able to talk more about it: what it feels like to be constantly ill, constantly in pain, constantly prepared to dry-heave for a few minutes in order to restore order to the body, something that happens a minimum of five days a week. Yet it remains taboo; "I'm eating here" is the usual response. I wish I could just be eating here too, is really the point. But like the realities of pregnancy and sex and shit and birth and death, though, vomit is off limits. 

 

Like this newsletter? Forward it to a friend!

Light is surprising

Blues Buzz

The 100-year-old sick experiment keeping Appalachia sick and stuck on coal. Western rehab for white men. Australian birds of prey who light things on fire OKAY. Americans are filling India's hospitals. Why are some of our most important teachers paid the least? West Texas winter wonderland. Inside the deadly world of private trash collection. Letting felons vote is changing Virginia. Her name is Moira and she will not be Roiphed. A requiem for brutal Stalinist Albania. The health impact of off-shore drilling. The warming winter Olympics.

Cafe in Budapest. © E.A. Crunden

Cafe in Budapest. © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. More than a dozen people were killed during an attack in Senegal. Tunisia's opposition is encouraging protests. DRC residents are facing brutal flooding. Clashes between Christians and Muslims killed around 70 people in Nigeria.

Americas. Canada worries that the U.S. will pull out of NAFTA. A number of islands (including the battered Puerto Rico) stared down tsunamis this week. Julian Assange, Ecuadorian citizen. Russia is accused of meddling in Mexico's upcoming elections. Thousands are protesting new elections in Honduras. The U.S. is preparing to deport 260,000 Salvadoran immigrants. Bannon out at Breitbart. Massive mudslides killed more than 15 people in California. Yes, North Carolina is gerrymandered. Big Medicaid changes could be coming. Shithole countries.

Asia & Australia. For a brief time, a suburb of Sydney was the hottest place in the world. Car bombs in Syria killed 23 people. Israel targeted a number of groups over their BDS stance. As Olympics talk heats up, keep an eye on the Koreas. Everything you need to know about Israel's Strippergate. A prominent Pakistani journalist escaped an assassination attempt in Islamabad. Palestinian refugees live in fear of Trump's threats. An oil tanker is on fire in the East China Sea. The Iran nuclear deal survives another day. Big time for Saudi women.

Europe. Coalition talks are still struggling along in Germany. More fun in Hungary. Poland's president massively reshuffled the country's cabinet. Farage gonna Farage.

 


Spoken & Written

"And here are the all-male [Best Director] nominees." -- Natalie Portman

 


Me

Journalism: Israel has blacklisted a group that won a Nobel Peace Prize for aiding refugees from Nazi Germany. The year just started and transgender women are dying. No, the White House did not endorse a clean DACA bill. Michelle Williams made 1% of Mark Wahlberg's salary to re-shoot All the Money in the World. A fourth undocumented immigrant is clashing with the Trump administration over her right to an abortion. The president wants immigration from countries like Norway as opposed to "shithole" countries. Trump's Islamophobia is backfiring.

Anything goes:

I couldn't tell you how I thought this year would go because I didn't (and don't) know. Two weeks in and I'm still baffled. At work I've ricocheted between ups and downs (big ups, big downs), at home we've yelled and laughed and slept easily and poorly, outside it was freezing cold and then suspiciously warm (and, as I write this, cold again.) What that means for the year to come, I've no idea.

In all of this, the most surprising thing is where I live. I've never lived in a truly beautiful space in my life, and I mean that in a number of ways, for a number of reasons. If this space will wind up being truly beautiful I can't tell you, but living here has been surreal. My time in D.C. has been spent in basements, with one exception: the $650/month squished room I lived in during my first year in this city, the one that was almost exactly the size of the small futon bed I bought a block over. It had one small window, through which no light shone through. All the rest, basements. They were all expensive, because D.C., and filled with various problems. I spent minimal time in each and fled often.

Now, I live in a two-level apartment on the second and third floors of a beautiful corner house. There are windows in almost every room, with a clear view of my beloved neighborhood, a safe, sweet spot in a city with staggering attractions and severe problems. The floors are hard and wood, the walls are white. I've never been a homebody in my life and I assume I never will be, but the extent to which I've felt at ease (occasionally) staying indoors here is remarkable. When I leave, there are even more wonders -- our small grocery store is a one minute walk, our neighborhood cafe the same distance. The gym once seemed impossibly far, but now it is down the hill and a short walk over. Our best friend in the city is a twelve minute walk away. The bus to work, once a painful fifteen minute crawl, is now just across the street. In winter, the house holds light until the last possible moment. In summer, I imagine, it will be endlessly bright with easy access outside to the farmers' markets and cafes I haunt.

All of this is to say I was a misanthrope before 2018 and I'll be one when 2019 rolls around. But it's nice to be comfortable where you sleep. I'm grateful for light, for white walls, and for small wonders like street noises and large windows. Two weeks into the year and these small things have been overwhelming, but blessed.

 

 

Clarity

Blues Buzz

Nova Scotia is a great place. Searching for the self-loathing woman writer. Traveling while Black in Japan. Roy Moore's Jewish attorney. Dressing for your sexual harassment hearing. Nicole Chung interviews Kristi Yamaguchi. On feminism and transition. Emma Green's equal parts controversial and acclaimed article on how America is transforming Islam. Three coming-of-age movies should leave you asking -- Who has the freedom to choose their path? Oxygen is disappearing from the world's oceans. A new DTF. Everything this administration hates. Raw water is the reason we should eat the rich. On the nuances of immigration and cultural identity.

Old town, Warsaw, Poland. © E.A. Crunden

Old town, Warsaw, Poland. © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. A gas fire cued the shutdown of Nigeria's electrical grid. A suicide attack on a Nigerian mosque also killed multiple people. Deadly floods are plaguing DRC. Coalition talks are faltering in Zimbabwe. Guinea says it thwarted a coup. The death toll from a train crash in South Africa has risen to 19

Americas. Five Mexican politicians were assassinated within a week. Canada is fucking cold and so is the U.S. Trump v. Bannon. Prepare for drilling everywhere. Puerto Rico is still without full access to water and electricity more than 100 days after Hurricane Maria hit.

Asia. Protests across Iran. Pakistan drew some unwanted attention from Trump on the first day of the year and then hit back. Israel's right-wing is dooming the two-state solution. North Korea agreed to talks and also threatened to bomb the U.S. India's Dalits are protesting en masse. China is cracking down on cars that don't meet its fuel standards.

Europe. Iceland is getting real about equal pay unlike basically everyone else. Latvians are fleeing the country for elsewhere in the EU. New year, same Brexit drama.

 


Spoken & Written

“Iguanas have a good chance of thawing out if you move them into the sun.” -- Maxine Bentzel, reporter at CBS12 News, amid frozen iguana drama in Florida.


Me

Journalism: Queer and trans Texans are running for office in droves. U.S. foreign policy is already off to a rocky start in 2018 and that's including U.S.-Pakistan relations. Trump said he wanted highly-skilled immigrants -- but now he's forcing them out

Anything goes:

It's the new year and I live in an apartment coated with boxes and lacking real furniture. We ate on the floor one night, wrapped in sweatshirts and scarves; the upstairs warms up but not the lower level and, if you are unaware, the Northeast is frigid right now. We have no wireless internet and I cannot find where I packed my gloves. But it is a beautiful place and I feel glad we are here.

Apart from that there is work and and a new year of things to feel terrible about and no time and rapidly-dwindling energy. I spent hours on a piece this week about H-1B visa holders only to watch it disappear into a sea of other articles. This usually happens with my passion projects and this usually happens to most people's passion projects. Journalists know: the things you care about usually aren't the things people click. It's tiring for me but it's far worse for all of the people impacted by terrible policies that no one cares to read about. 

Mostly my week was tiring because, like everyone else, I live in a world dominated by white cishet Western male perspectives. I'll never know what it's like to live in a world shaped by people like me, and, arguably, there are more people like me in power than there are people like any of many of my closest friends. 2018 didn't change that. Neither will 2019. Or 2020. Rough pill to swallow.

But returning to work did reunite me with several of my favorite people. Much like the beautiful snow that accompanied the cold front, their reappearance in my life has reminded me how valuable kindred spirits can be, and how vital. Running off to grab coffee with one of my favorite coworkers this week and wrapped head to toe in layers, I remembered all the things I love about winter, which is, I maintain, a season of clarity. 

 

Like this newsletter? Send it to a friend if you are so inclined:

Deep cold

Programming note: This newsletter will be off for at least two weeks, as your curator will be in Eastern Europe. No one send me Twitter updates or the latest from the U.S. government, thank you for your kindness. 

Blues Buzz

Who will advocate for West Virginia? In praise of the deep cold. "Kwuaussie." The impossible heterosexuality of losing weight. The year in tension. Destroyer of monuments. While the U.S. has been stealing land since it first began occupying it centuries ago, I am nonetheless supportive when capitalism works for the greater good. Who cares about the great American novel? The Woman Warrior. No, your "flirty boss" who became your husband story is not an ok story. America values women less than men. Narwhals can't handle stress and are honestly very relatable. Norway's Sami minority are fighting the government over reindeer culling. Kazuo Ishiguro on diversity in writing. Butch, please. Goodbye, Eastern Europe. Black mothers keep dying after giving birth.

Harper's Ferry © E.A. Crunden

Harper's Ferry © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Zimbabwe's new government looks a lot like Zimbabwe's old government. A suicide bombing in Nigeria killed 15 people. Massive blackouts plagued Malawi. At least 15 UN peacekeepers died in DRC, the deadliest attack on the group in 25 years. 

Americas. Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is wanted for treason after helping to cover up Iranian involvement in the bombing of a Jewish center more than two decades ago. A Brazilian environmentalist seeks the presidency. Tens of thousands of Hondurans protested and demanded an election recount. The U.S. withdraw from a U.N. global refugee effort. CVS is buying Aetna. Queer people can't have nice things.

Asia & Australia. An Egyptian lawmaker was sentenced to three years in prison after attempting to incite rape. The death toll from a cyclone continued to mount in southern India. Activists in Hong Kong marched against authoritarianism. Yemen's former president was reported dead amid deadly clashes in the war-weary country. U.S. embassy drama in Jerusalem. Lebanon's prime minister un-resigned. Australia voted to finally legalize same-sex marriage. 

Europe. Brexit talks continue to fail. This is largely because Northern Ireland is bringing Britain's chickens home to roost (and, it seems, there will be no hard border in Ireland.) Russian Olympics doping drama. The former king of Romania has died.

 


Spoken & Written

“Due to my familiarity and experience with the process of surrogacy, I clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others.” -- Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ)

 


Me

Journalism: The U.S. has withdrawn from the U.N. global refugee compact. A Florida man threatened to "shoot up" a mosque prior to his arrest. Muslim-majority nations blasted the Trump administration's Jerusalem moves. Another shooting. Trump finally called for an end to the Saudi blockade in Yemen. Discredited sting videos have now prompted a DOJ investigation into Planned Parenthood. The ban is back.

Anything goes:

Hello, my thesis was accepted and this means tonight I have to read a small excerpt publicly. When I say I am a deeply anxious person with a terror of public speaking, no one seems to fully understand what that means and it's hard to explain to people who flippantly use words like "anxiety" without grasping what word entails for some of us. For me, cold sweats, heart palpitations, an inability to function or focus, and a general sense of enduring panic are all realities of daily life, made even worse in moments of actual heightened stress. This is the long way of saying: no, I'm not looking forward to this.

Once that painful task is over, however, I'm off. It's been so long since I traveled alone and even longer since I traveled alone internationally. When I was 20 or 21, I train-hopped around central Europe, veering off into other regions as it suited me. I flew into Turkey once at 2 am and navigated my way from Asian Istanbul to European Istanbul, a useless boy I'd met at the airport tagging along because the city confused him. Shortly after an abrupt breakup I flew into London, took an overnight bus to Scotland, spent a day meandering, and then took an overnight bus back. Once, I stayed up all night in front of a train station somewhere in France, sitting on top of a vent because it was warm, and taking turns keeping watch with a nice woman who had come from Morocco, lived outside, and was concerned about someone as young as me in a place where ominous groups of men were wandering around. 

That was forever ago and now I'm older and I work a lot and until but a few days ago I worked and went to school and that was most of my life. It's hard to travel when you have very little time and very few days off and very little money because one of your monthly paychecks is almost entirely for rent and the other has to be divided between loans, groceries, basic household needs, and, you know, the occasional moment of enjoyment. But now I'm going and I'll be gone for awhile. I'll be spending the entirety of Chanukah in a region where Jews once thrived and later died in staggering numbers. It will be very cold and I will be very much by myself. Off we go, I guess. 

 

A taxing time

Blues Buzz

Afghanistan's hipsters carve a space for themselves. I really need to see Call Me By Your Name. Self-driven disaster relief. Sherman Alexie on Thanksgiving. Her name is Pocahontas. Something great: a rural Mississippi county wants to start a recycling program. The Pakistani general who won't go away. 100 notable books (and 20 left off.) Favorite authors on favorite books. Walking while Black. The dangerous lure of writing for white readers. To give a name to it. Dear Rose. Justice for Ann Curry. Good news: Ferrante is back on her bullshit (in the best way.)

 

Denver, Colorado. © E.A. Crunden

Denver, Colorado. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. A massive extremist attack in Egypt's Sinai region killed hundreds; those targeted were Sufis and you should know what that means. Kenya's president vowed to overcome divisions despite a heated and contested election. The U.S. military denies that civilians were killed during a raid in Somalia.

Americas. Colombia is seeking to suspend mining in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Both candidates claimed victory in Honduras' presidential election. The children of Argentina's dirty war want their fathers punished. LGBTQI2S+ Canadians received an apology. Texas high school students are moving away from high school football. Men are bad. Russia-Trump drama keeps rolling. The Senate passed a truly terrible tax bill.

Asia. Anti-Ahmadi sentiment led to the downfall of Pakistan's law minister, another blow for democracy and minorities. Nine people were killed in an attack on Peshawar College. A volcano in Bali is getting set to erupt. Nepal is holding a historic election. On a visit to Burma, Pope Francis bowed to pressure and declined to use the word "Rohingya." I regret to inform y'all that North Korea is firing intercontinental ballistic missiles again. India is making moves in support of net neutrality.

Europe. France could criminalize cat-calling. Anti-Muslim sentiment continues to be an issue in majority Catholic Poland. Germany is headed for some drama. A war criminal committed suicide via poison in the Hague and it wasn't even close to the biggest story of the week -- the year, it was 2017, and the times they were these. 

 


Spoken & Written

“I don’t have time for meetings that aren’t real.” -- Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) after a House Democratic sexual harassment meeting

 


Me:

Journalism: Military officials are pushing back on Trump's nuclear threats. A federal judge permanently blocked White House efforts to block sanctuary cities from receiving federal funds. The U.S. finally labeled anti-Rohingya atrocities ethnic cleansing. Diplomats are fleeing Delhi as the city's smog crisis worsens -- but that won't solve the problem. The State Department continues to dissolve. Sting videos have had severe consequences in Arkansas. Even far-right U.K. leaders blasted Trump's Islamophobic retweets. Senate Republicans essentially voted to defund public schools to help private ones. Moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would be bad -- but so is designating Jerusalem as Israel's capital more generally. White evangelical Alabamans are standing by Roy Moore

Anything goes: Oh wow, it's here. The final draft of my thesis is turned in -- with decisions coming Monday, cool, fun time, no anxiety here -- and the year is barreling to its conclusion. By this time next week I'll theoretically be hours from my thesis reading and two days from a flight to Budapest. Then, I'll be back, just in time to pack up the two years I've spent buried deep in D.C.'s best-kept-secret neighborhood and heading to a more central part of that neighborhood. I'll be doing this mostly myself, since PIC will be traveling. 

That's stressful and I'm feeling the brunt of it. I spent a few wonderful days hiking mountains recently and since coming back I've felt off, like taking a break took me off track and now I can't get back into the swing of things. A tax bill with alarming implications, chaos in several countries near and dear to me, and a relentless news cycle haven't been enough to really shake me awake, something I've been feeling guilty about. But maybe a break -- a real, longer break -- is what I actually need. I'm excited to be abroad again (it's been ages) and happy for the chance to reflect and spend some time alone. Flip side, I remember how lonely (and depressing) traveling alone for a long period of time can be. So, I'm bracing myself.

Still, with this chaotic year winding to an end, I'm grateful for a number of things, not least of all the 30-minute pep talk my better half gave me this weekend over drinks and dinner, the close friends offering repeatedly to help with the move, and the brief but great time I got to spend with the beautiful, rambunctious little Texan I consider my niece. There will be a lot to reflect on when 2017 is done -- understatement of the century -- but my gratitude for the many truly A+ people in my life will definitely be a part of that. And so, belatedly, I am giving thanks. 

 

A reckoning

You may have missed last week's newsletter -- it is here. Programming note: your newsletter curator will be taking a break next week, returning to you the week following. Many thanks and easy times to you and yours. 

Blues Buzz

Oh Florida. Colin Kaepernick will not be silenced. Let the flood go on forever. "I really wish people would see fat people as humans" -- a profile of Roxane Gay. NEW PLANET. Try to sound more Jewish why don't you. National Book Award winners. Officials flooded one of Houston's wealthiest neighborhoods to save everyone else. Still waiting to dive into this piece on Laura Ingalls Wilder and Trumpers. On languages and colonization. I have loved Annie Proulx for so long and now you can too. What the closet stole from me.

Northern Ireland. © E.A. Crunden

Northern Ireland. © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. Zimbabwe's military threatened to intervene in ongoing purges -- then orchestrated a coup. The head of Angola's state oil company was dismissed. Nigeria's army may quit training female soldiers. Bad news for elephants. 

Americas. Thousands protested a blanket abortion ban in Brazil. Venezuela's state electricity company is defaulting. Another mass shooting where the perpetrator had a history of domestic violence. FCC BAD SCENE. Men with progressive politics are also regressive. Massive oil spill in South Dakota

Asia & Australia. A massive earthquake killed hundreds of people along the Iran-Iraq border. Lebanon's prime minister says he is safe in Saudi Arabia. Another North Korean soldier defected to South Korea. Japan is set to simplify visa rules for India. A market airstrike killed more than 60 people in Syria. Australians voted via survey in favor of same-sex marriage (though the results are non-binding.) Thailand says it may hold elections next year. Cambodia's unraveling democracy. 

Europe. Brexit could damage UK food security and standards. Thousands of white nationalists marched in Poland last weekend, chanting Islamophobic and anti-Semitic slogans. Sexual assault charges are on the rise in France. Free press not doing A+ in Hungary.

 


Spoken & Written

“Pray for an Islamic Holocaust." -- One of the slogans written on signs at last weekend's march in Warsaw, Poland


Me

Journalism: Trump and Duterte bonded over their shared media feelings. Journalists in Poland also have reason to be concerned. Yemen's crisis is partly the fault of the U.S. All men. I spoke to Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQ, and other organizations about rising hate crimes -- all saw a link to Trump's rhetoric. Two churchgoers were injured by a gun in church during a discussion about guns in church. 

Anything goes:

What a week (I say this every week.) I ended yesterday on poor terms with a number of people after several weeks of sexual assault allegations finally overwhelmed me and I lost my shit. I've grown weary of people not minding their language or their reactions or prioritizing the individuals and communities that need it right now. If you aren't feeling personally triggered or traumatized right now, fine -- but always, ALWAYS assume someone in your proximity is. Center them. Keep your comments to yourself. Was Al Franken your favorite senator? Were you shocked your favorite comedian is in fact a vile human being? Are you amazed to learn millions of people live in constant terror of half the planet? Among other things, you should perhaps reconsider your heroes and your trust but regardless please know some of us are always afraid, never shocked, and weary of your surprise, your excuses, and your complicity. 

(What I mean to say is, you probably love a man -- who doesn't -- and you should probably be questioning him. Are you a man? You should probably be questioning yourself. If you aren't, you are the problem.)

(Are you a woman or an enby or another gender minority? Feel free to prioritize yourself. You owe a society that abuses and builds itself from your bones nothing.)

That's that and this is this: the final draft of my thesis is due a week from Monday, I'm going to (Eastern) Europe in less than a month and haven't planned anything, I'm moving on January 1 and I have no idea how. That's a lot at the end of a long year, but nothing this year came slowly or with consideration, so this is to be expected. My oven, however, is working, and for that I am very, very grateful. 

 

 

The margins bite back

Blues Buzz

Paradise Papers. Zadie Smith on New York City. Leonard Cohen forever. Queer short stories. Looking back on Bastard Out of Carolina. The male sensitivity reader. Louis C.K. is going down. The future of being outed after Kevin Spacey. Sikh motorcycle club. Surviving assault and struggling to look forward at 68.

Richmond, Virginia. © E.A. Crunden

Richmond, Virginia. © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. Liberia's presidential run-off has been indefinitely postponed. Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe fired his vice president for "disloyalty." South Sudanese refugees in Uganda are facing a horrifying predicament. The ICC will look into alleged Burundian war crimes (something Burundi rejects.) DRC has a year to hold elections and clean up its act.

Americas & Australia. Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman was indeed probably murdered. Texas executed a Mexican citizen. The Trump administration is making it even harder for Americans to visit Cuba. Millions of Puerto Ricans lost power yet again. Twenty-six people were killed in Sutherland Springs, Texas when a gunman walked in and began shooting. An Alabama Senate candidate is accused of serial assault and harassment. 

Asia. The House of Saud went a little nuts last weekend. Trump visited several Asian countries this week, promising U.S. resolve on nuclear issues specifically and inking a number of contracts with China. Lebanon's prime minister resigned. Syria joined the Paris climate agreement. New Delhi's pollution is out of control. Egypt's anti-LGBTQ crackdown is just getting started

Europe. Catalonia's president surrendered to police. Poles continue to protest the erosion of democracy. Germany will recognize a third gender. One bad week for British Prime Minister Theresa May.

 


Spoken & Written

“I feel so sad, and I hate that actor that ruined this guy’s career. So, O.K., it happened 10 years ago ... Jesus, suck it up once in a while! I would like to ask [him] how it feels to lose a lifetime of success and hard work all because of 10 minutes of indiscretion 10 years or more ago.” -- Gay Talese on Kevin Spacey

 


Me

Journalism: Reactions to the Texas shooting are wildly different from the NYC attack. A country in the midst of a civil war is doing better on climate change than the United States. Tuesday night saw big wins for progressives -- and bodies on the margins. China doesn't like the media and neither does Trump. Delhi is experiencing "gas chamber"-like pollution -- no thanks to the United States.

Anything goes:

Our oven and stove are fixed. We signed a lease on a new apartment (our dream apartment, really) starting January 1. We're heading off to Philly for the weekend. A lot went wrong this week and my head's all over the place, but these are good things, important things. So, heading off on a train, trying to focus on the bright things at the end of a dark year. Calming thoughts to all. 

 

No country for good men

Blues Buzz

The queers are not here for Kevin Spacey. Probably don't go to Notre Dame. Texas wants to attract doctors to its public universities in the hopes that they'll stay and help stem the state's doctor shortage. The horrors of Tuam. Domestic extremism is an American problem. A new narrative of Appalachia. New York City's Uzbeks are afraid. More men are trash. Sarah Polley is a gift. Hell of a way to go out. Climate gentrification in Miami. Images from America's forgotten "third coast." The Southerners fighting white supremacy. Humans are definitely causing climate change. Local news is SO important -- and it's dying.

 

Great Falls, Virginia. © E.A. Crunden

Great Falls, Virginia. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Kenya's president won re-election in a controversial re-do. Anti-poaching efforts in Mali are working. Eritrean forces killed 28 protesters in Asmara, the nation's capital. Protesters abroad rallied against the Eritrean regime. An American citizen is being charged over a tweet criticizing Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe. 

Americas. Hundreds of armed men attacked Brazil's environmental agencies. Cuba-U.S. relations are back to suckingManafort Monday. Eight people were killed when a man drove a truck into them and then pulled out two handguns in New York City. The Virgin Islands are still facing a crisis. A billionaire shut down a number of local news sites after they voted to unionize, taking down DCist and Gothamist in the process. No prison for Bowe Bergdahl. 

Asia & Australia. As Australia moves to shutdown its brutal detention centers, refugees are calling for an end to mistreatment and assurances about their futures. Australia cracked down on Uluru climbing. The Iraqi Kurdish president stepped down following a failed independence bid. Saudi bombs continue to strike Yemen.

Europe. Madrid took over Catalonia following a failed bid for independence. Sexual harassment scandals are rocking Britain's parliament. France's state of emergency finally ended, but many are worried replacement measures aren't much better. 

 


Spoken & Written

“In many species, males tend to do somewhat stupid things that end up getting them killed in silly ways, and it appears that may have been true for mammoths also.” -- Love Dalén, an evolutionary biologist

 


Me

Journalism: The Whitefish scandal is only the latest mess linked to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The Trump administration doesn't want a new AUMF vote. After NYC, Trump is calling for extreme policy measures -- but they won't work. The shooting you probably missed. A DACA deal could come at the expense of diversity visas. "Good guys with guns" only made things worse in Colorado.

Anything goes:

There are a lot of things I know to be true of myself, but here's one I conveniently like to forget: I'm overly sensitive and I take things very personally. That is to say, thesis revisions have been a struggle for me. I began my program planning to focus on journalism and related nonfiction writing -- I was trying to become a reporter, writing for free for an online publication, blogging, and plugging away on this newsletter, and my masters program seemed like a potential solution. Part-time, entirely covered by loans, and over in two years. Then, I thought, I could head to a publication where my words would met with payment, and all the work would be worth it.

Things went differently -- I went to work for a publication full-time only four months into my masters program, which turned out to be very memoir-heavy. I'm a contrarian but I'm also a people-pleaser; my professors and classmates wanted words about me, not really so much about the world, and so I gave them myself. I've regretted that a lot but that's neither here nor there -- I'm just over a month away from the end of all this and a much-dreaded thesis reading and then I'll be done and this will be behind me. But the weeks between me and that time are looming large, made no better by the feedback on the stories. Criticism is valuable; I balk at it, but it's definitely made me a better writer. But how can you really assess difference of opinion? Life experience? 

One of my essays for this nightmare hell project deals a lot with good and bad, with Austin and Texas, with perceptions and prejudices and stereotypes and the pitfalls stemming from all these things. That was hurdle one; I've overhauled it several times and it seems more convincing than it was before, although I still feel 'misunderstood' for lack of a better complaint. (To be clear: I am someone who feels 'misunderstood' a lot, whether true or not.) The other thorn in my side is the essay I knew would cause problems -- a running, warbling rant about families and my exhaustion with people who refuse to acknowledge the flaws inherent within the structures they consider integral. I knew no one would like this essay (I'm a person in the world with virtually no family ties; I am WELL aware how other people react to that situation) but I wasn't expecting quite the level of defensiveness and pushback. I don't know that anyone reacts well to being told they're condescending and unforgiving but I've had a disproportionately bad reaction -- I've spent the past two days in an ongoing sulk, with my #2 looking anxiously at me and offering tentative shoulder squeezes.

This will pass, of course. Living with high anxiety and intense depression means my world seems on the verge of ending once a week on average, several times a day during particularly bad spells. Feeling on the verge isn't really new for me. I just want it to be over, to accelerate to a time where my thoughts and memories aren't subject to people with pens and their own opinions, telling me how well and convincingly I've articulated experiences I shouldn't have to defend. But time passes, blink and it will be January. In this instance, at least, that's comforting to me. 

 

Heat's out

Blues Buzz

Northern Idaho really having A Time. On authenticity and our expectations of South Asian writers. Your favorite uncle, Khizr Khan, is back. After the fires, California takes care of its own. It is the poet's season. Marilynne Robinson on the humanities. The challenges of writing about ultra-Orthodox Jews. Joyce Carol Oates is being terrible on a lot of things; her comments on Mississippi and literacy have gone under-discussed. What we really lost in the Grenfell Tower fire. Left-wing women aren't happy about the misogyny displayed by men on the left. What Bruce Springsteen and Chance the Rapper have in common. How China will lead as the West retreats.

 

Richmond, Virginia. © E.A. Crunden

Richmond, Virginia. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. A suicide bomber killed 13 people in Nigeria. Kenya's election disaster is somehow worsening. In South Africa, apartheid never really ended. Over a hundred people have died from plague in Madagascar. 

Americas. The body of an Argentinian indigenous rights activist was found. After decades, Colombians enjoy the fruits of their own labor. Nicaragua signed the Paris agreement. The U.S. introduced absurd new refugee limitations in addition to new flight measures. Trump finally declared the opioid crisis an emergency. So many men are terrible.

Asia & Australia. Japan's prime minister sailed to re-election. Australia is cracking down on airport security. Australia's birther controversy is somewhat amazing. An arrest warrant has been issued for former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Dozens of people died in a fireworks factory fire in Indonesia. Being queer in Egypt is set to become even harder.

Europe. Northern Irish citizens will be able to obtain fully-funded abortions in England soon. France's sexual harassment crisis is staggering among politicians. An obsessive man attacked a progressive journalist with a knife in Moscow, stabbing her in the neck. Catalonia's political crisis exploded, with Spain taking the semi-independent region under control following a failed strike for independence. 

 


Spoken & Written

“The President has great difficulty with the truth on many issues.” -- Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)

 


Me

Journalism: Betsy DeVos didn't understand critical disability legislation; now she's rolling back guidance aimed at helping students with disabilities. An undocumented teenager was due an abortion, asap, and she got one -- but hundreds of others are stuck in limbo. The U.S. government would like to make that a problem for U.S. citizens as well as undocumented immigrants. The White House is open to "moderate" Taliban members joining the Afghan government. The new U.S. ambassador to Canada believes in "both sides" of the climate change debate. Russian journalists at the country's leading opposition publication may soon come armed

Anything goes:

Eating well has been a struggle the past month or so, something that intensified this past week. The bake function of our oven went out the week of Rosh Hashanah, in September, and last Sunday, the rest of the massive square -- stove and broiler functions included -- also blew, sending a shower of sparks and emitting smoke. Apparently the oven is 14 years old, so this was inevitable, but that hasn't made it bearable. The process of getting it fixed has been taxing and prolonged; in the interim, we've been eating out almost exclusively, and going long spurts without cooking, baking, or bonding over food.

That's been unhealthy, largely because we predominately consume bougie farmer's market produce and all the pricey niceties two decent-paying jobs in a prominent city can buy you, and also because I am the only Jew alive with an aversion to salt, something rarely found in our food at home and nearly always found in every dish served elsewhere. As a result, I am nearly always thirsty these days and my face is caving in on itself.

It's also been a strange shift for our relationship; our days are long, 2017 is long, and we've spent a lot of it cooking and baking and bonding over the things we can create, with and for each other.

I've never been someone who loved food, which is part of a longer story I don't need to get into. Learning to appreciate it has been a long process, as has sorting out my own health problems and trying to find a bearable relationship with the things that sustain me. As a 26 year-old I seem to have found at least somewhat of a compromise -- I spend more on quality groceries than I might otherwise, and I devote far more time to preparing food and making it appealing than I might otherwise. That's become therapeutic; it's a relaxing thing, chopping and stirring and blending and browning, only to have something empowering at the end, some kind of nourishment to fuel a family (even a very, very small one like mine).

But that's been an impossibility this week, worsening a situation I already thought was semi-unbearable. The oven being broken comes in the midst of thesis revisions and disputes, PIC's new job, stress over visas and sponsorship and crackdowns, and my own, ongoing state of exhaustion struggling to cover the news in a year where most of the news is constant and terrible. Staring at the defunct black shape, I keep finding myself wishing I could make something, channel my energy into creation and sustenance. Much like this year more broadly, it just stares back at me, defiantly, continuing to exist despite its own inefficiency. How is it only nearly November?

 

Ban men

Blues Buzz

The first South Asian YA novel. What nuclear weapons leave. Astronomy flourished in India before the British came. Journeys and destinations in Norway. The woman who charted the wilderness. Black poetry. When climate change comes for the fairy tale forests. The loneliness of Elizabeth Bishop. A Black trans soul pioneer re-emerges after decades. Texas is complicated.

A highway in Richmond, Virginia. © E.A. Crunden

A highway in Richmond, Virginia. © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. Almost 300 people were killed in Somalia after a devastating twin bombing. Liberia's presidential election went to a runoff. The U.N. wants 900 extra peacekeepers sent to CAR. Somalia is one of the worst countries for death by pollution

Americas. Venezuela barred opposition governors from taking office. The Palestinian mission in Colombia called for the end of Israel. NAFTA talks are hurting the Mexican economy and are not going well for any North American nation. Deportations are troubling Texas schools. Trump's travel ban 3.0 was denied again. Life in Puerto Rico remains a nightmare.

Asia. Plague may be breaking out across Seychelles. Iraqi troops clashed with Kurds; the Kurds, meanwhile, retook Raqqa from ISIS. How a raid on an Afghan village went terribly wrong. It was a week of horrifying violence in Afghanistan. India is grappling with its yearly Diwali pollution problem. Xi Jinping, China's leader, is sailing to what could be a very long term. Things are worsening every day for Egypt's LGBTQ community. Japan heads to vote.

Europe. A hurricane came for Ireland this week. Austria has a fun new terrifying young leader. An investigative reporter was assassinated in Malta. Spain is imposing rule on Catalonia following the region's independence efforts. The Czech Republic is getting its own conservative billionaire leader.

 


Spoken & Written

"“He is a thundercloud. He is quicksand. He is a deep bog.” For the last time, men are not the weather. You are not the weather." -- Alexandra Petri for the Washington Post


Me

Journalism: California's wildfires don't seem to have moved POTUS. He does have time to keep blaming Puerto Rico for the island's problems, though. The State Department contradicted Trump's claims on Cuba. NAFTA talks ain't going well, y'all. Questions are growing after a deadly ambush in Niger. One Texas city has a strange requirement for those seeking hurricane relief funds. Spain's constitutional crisis is worsening. Five former presidents united for hurricane relief; the current president was at his golf course

Anything Goes:

I have a lot to say at the moment, but not a lot of patience. My weeks are typically long and overly eventful; I write for a living and I am paid to follow the news cycle. In 2017 in the United States, that's a lot. I'm also a person with a past and a present -- the things I follow impact me and bring things up. A lot from this past week will stick with me in weeks to come but I think the highlight will be that after a lifetime of abuse at the hands of masculine people a (cis, white, straight, well-off, able, American, etc) woman sent me a messageoffering a strident defense of men. (I called them trash. I stand by that statement.) I wasn't in the mood to respond so I didn't. My silence spoke for itself, I hope. What a worthless fucking thing to say. What a pointless fucking thing to say.

Stop defending privilege. Take accountability. We will never sleep if we do not do these things. And I am not going to save people who do not want to be saved.

Other things. I'm supposed to be working on my thesis, supposed to being the operative word. But now I actually am, which is something. Revision and editing is an important process but it's one I hate. Like most people I respond poorly to criticism; I'm overly sensitive in addition to defensive, which is to say this process isn't going very smoothly. But, it's going. For now that's something. Meanwhile the District is getting its first spurts of cool weather after a lifetime of summer. This autumn soul is ready for cold nights and long sleeves -- for me, the best of times.  

 

No deal

In case you missed last week's edition due to the joys of Squarespace, it is here.

Blues Buzz

Stephen Miller, probably your least favorite person ever. Mexico City's unshakeable street vendors regroup and return. Why showing Judaism on-screen is rare. A fisherman tries farming. A woman sent back to El Salvador was tortured and raped. Love me some V. Woolf insults. The geniuses. Everything is embarrassing. Prisoners are cooking to death in the heat and humidity. On blaming women for the acts of men. What it's like to live on the Russian border. Celesbian gossip. Milking cone snails. Dating apps are making love more diverse.

 

© E.A. Crunden

© E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Ongoing debate over Kenya's election has resulted in yet more violence; the country's opposition leader said he would not partake in a redo of the election. Tunisia's health minister died of a heart attack. Liberia goes to the polls. Ethiopia is devaluing its currency. Anthrax could be killing hippos in Botswana. 

Americas. Harvey Weinstein was fired from his company. The Trump administration proposed a hardline deal in exchange for temporary amnesty for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants. Goodbye to the Clean Power Plan. Wildfires ravaged Northern California, killing more than 30 people. Trump wants more nukes. Trump took steps to gut the ACA. The U.S. quit UNESCO and Trump decertified the Iran deal.

Asia. China supports the Iran Deal. Yemen's horrifying civil war is leaving its citizens with few options. Dozens of people died amid landslides in Vietnam. An American-Canadian couple held by militants were freed with help from the Pakistani army. India took a major step towards enforcing consent and protecting young girls.

Europe. Protesters marched in support of a unified Spain; meanwhile Catalonia put independence on hold. Hate crimes against U.K. mosques have doubled in the past year. People still really don't want to Brexit. Greece has a new gender law.

 


Spoken & Written

"I will tell you I left Texas and I left Florida and I left Louisiana and I went to Puerto Rico and I met with the President of the Virgin Islands." - U.S. President Donald Trump, president of the U.S. Virgin Islands

 


Me

Journalism: The Trump administration unveiled a non-starter list of demands in exchange for protecting DREAMers. Around the world, indigenous people face an uphill battle. U.S.-Turkey relations are the latest casualty of Trump's erratic foreign policy. Trump is threatening to withdraw aid from Puerto Rico. FEMA avoided confirming whether or not reports of food shortages on the island are valid. Recovery efforts on the island will take a very long time; activists aren't waitingBye bye, UNESCO.

Anything goes:

It wasn't a good week and I am very tired and I have a thesis due in a month and a half, essentially. Here is a song

 

In the riot and the rush

Blues Buzz

When nothing has worked, perhaps consider: a binder. Growing up gay in a proud Southern family. RIP Tom Petty. Triple S. Sustainable traveling shouldn't break your budget. After tragedy, seeing Puerto Rico clearly. Cool, we are littering space. KAZUO. Surprise surprise, a cis white man in Hollywood has been accused of serial harassment. WE ARE KILLING THE BEES. Poland's radical break from democracy.

Great Falls. © E.A. Crunden

Great Falls. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Kenya's heated election drama continues. Several U.S. Green Berets were killed in Niger. The U.S. is getting set to lift sanctions on Sudan. Madagascar is dealing with, wait for it, a bout of plague. Gas blasts killed several people in Accra, Ghana. A crackdown on queer Egyptians has left the country's LGBTQ community terrified. 

Americas. Jagmeet Singh just made history in Canada. Five people were injured in Alberta, Canada over the weekend, part of what may have been an act of extremism. At least 22 people died across Central America as Tropical Storm Nate blew by. People on the Virgin Islands are livid with the U.S. government's response. Fifteen Cuban diplomats were expelled from Washington as drama continues to grow between the two countries. At least 59 people were killed and more than 400 wounded after a gunman opened fire on a casino concert in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Trump administration rolled back protections for transgender workers and birth control coverage for people who need it. White supremacists returned to Charlottesville, Virginia.

Asia. The Palestinian Authority is making moves to take over the Gaza strip. In Cambodia, authoritarianism is creeping. Iraqi forces retook Hawija, ISIS' last significant urban space. The Iran Deal could be toast, because we can't have nice things. Malaysia reckons with ISIS. The most polluted village in the world.

Europe. Two people were killed in a knife attack in Marseille, France. At least 900 people were injured in a vicious crackdown by Spanish police as Catalonia voted for independence. Same-sex marriage is now legal in Germany. Putin critic Aleksei Navalny has been sentenced to prison time yet again. Everything about the alleged murder of Kim Wall is horrifying.

 


Spoken & Written

"We will keep coming back!" -- White nationalist Richard Spencer, back in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend.

 


Me

Journalism: Trump's response to the Las Vegas shooting was very different than his standard reaction -- here's why. Las Vegans rushed to help one another after the tragedy. When we talk about mass shootings, we are talking about white men. Trump visited Puerto Rico, where he complained about the cost of rebuilding the devastated colony. Americans aren't happy with the White House's handling of the tragedy. Lawmakers are playing games with the health care of nine million children and many expecting parents. The U.S. Virgin Islands go ignored.

Anything Goes:

These days, everything is about the time spent between waking and making it back into bed, which has become my only real goal. Exhaustion is a reality of journalism in 2017, as well as of my life -- I have a full-time job, a thesis due in presentable form by December, too many side projects, and not enough time or energy for anything. Finding the space for things feels like an exercise in futility; my weekends are my only free time but they're now dominated by thesis, while my weekdays are a sprint spent pouring over topics I become an amateur expert on for one to two weeks at a time until another news story breaks and then off I go, to learn a new area. Jack of all trades, master of none, etc.

There are some other things I'd like to say, like how it was a terrible week to be a gender minority while well-meaning friends and others spoke about how "women" and "ladies" were affected, how my complaints were flippantly dismissed even by close friends, how I felt unusually small and vulnerable in the spaces I occupy for a number of reasons, virtually all of them relating to my body and how it operates and how precarious it always feels. But I have to spend a day editing my thesis and, again, there goes my energy, so now I don't have the time, again. 

 

Atonement

Blues Buzz

Masha Gessen on why we must protest. Black athletes are Black people -- and Black people are dying. Climate change is a social justice, too. A little-seen Kabul. Portraits of resilience in Saskatchewan. "Paris of the Mississippi." Women in Mongolia are ready to take on the patriarchy. The power of group chats for Black and brown people. Online dating when you're in a wheelchair. Nicole Chung on engaging her white family members re Trump.

 

Vegan life in Atlanta, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden

Vegan life in Atlanta, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Chad is very confused about being on Trump's travel ban (and France is not into it.) Around 100,000 Nigerian refugees were deported from Cameroon. In South Africa, thousands marched against corruption. Boko Haram is impacting schools in Nigeria. 

Americas. Montreal says goodbye to Uber. Chelsea Manning was not allowed to enter Canada. Aftershock tremors made earthquake rescue efforts harder in Mexico. This really weird and ever-growing Cuba story has everyone baffled. Puerto Rico is in crisis after Hurricane Maria, with little help from the mainland. The U.S. Virgin Islands is facing a health care crisis. A rural pregnancy and birth crisis is breaking out across the U.S. NFL drama. Trump debuted a new travel ban. DHS wants to surveil the social media of immigrants and those who keep company with immigrants. Trumpcare died again. Hugh Hefner has also died. High-level Trump administration officials have been getting into some real shenanigans and now Price is out.

Asia & Australia. Bali, Indonesia might be facing a volcanic eruption. Australia is eyeing creating a space agency. There was some question this week over whether the U.S. declared war on North Korea over Twitter. Saudi Arabia is finally set to let women drive. Kurdistan votes for independence. Azerbaijan's LGBTQ community is facing harsh crackdowns. Egypt is cracking down on queer rights after a rainbow flag flew at a Mashrou' Leila concert. At least 22 people were killed in a stampede in Mumbai. Pollution in Gaza is taking away the one escape residents had: the sea.

Europe. Angela Merkel remains chancellor of Germany. Ireland's abortion referendum is coming. Irish protesters called for abortion rights this weekend. Spain is going head-to-head with Catalonia over the region's referendum. 

 


Spoken & Written

"Pretty black and white." -- White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on the NFL #TakeAKnee protests.

 


Me

Journalism: Trump spent his time tweeting about football while Puerto Rico's national humanitarian crisis grew. Then he addressed the issue -- by blaming Puerto Rico. Which is being hindered by the Jones Act, everyone's new favorite shipping regulation. Puerto Ricans say Trump has failed themNo one understands why Trump banned Chad. Saudi Arabia is letting women drive, a credit to feminists -- but definitely not to the kingdom, which has other motives. Texas is denying Houston hurricane recovery funds.

Anything Goes:

This weekend is Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. I wouldn't say it's a fun day -- I can go 26 or so hours without food but once water and coffee are subtracted it becomes an ordeal, one I don't look forward to. But reflection, atonement, and forgiveness are crucial components of my faith, and I welcome the opportunity to renew my commitment to Judaism, as much as to myself and the people around me. 

That having been said, I've marked this Yom Kippur without my usual enthusiasm, probably because it's been an indescribably exhausting 2017 and my usual zeal for a clean slate has been replaced by a sneaking feeling that my weekends might be better spent treating myself to what I want in a world that wants me to have none of what I want. Even sitting through services I found myself growing resentful at the unfairness of Jews begging for forgiveness (or anyone on the margins begging for forgiveness, really) at a time when people who do not think Jews (and so many others) are even people are in power. 

Of course, Yom Kippur isn't a time for resenting the other. It's a time for cleansing the self, something I've been struggling to remember this year, when the self has seemed like a distant priority at a time when the collective is suffering so visibly. It's also a time for apology and righting wrongs. Staring at images of Puerto Rico, going through hell with no relief in sight, it hasn't been hard to see where my tzedakah funds should go, but I do wonder what will come later and how to keep up the momentum. Atonement comes once a year, but how do we spend the rest of it? When do we apologize and how? Those questions have been dominating my thoughts and really, I have no answers. 

 

New year, same fear

Blues Buzz

On Persepolis. Nerd war. Resistant coral? Why some queer people identify with monsters. Bike shares abound. Poems of Jewish faith and culture. A white supremacist wants to fire his attorneys because they are Jewish and Indian. The importance of narratives of Black vitality. Where are all the gay rural poets? Life as a trans man at the turn of the century.

 

Happy new year from our family to yours! © E.A. Crunden

Happy new year from our family to yours! © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. DRC forces killed more than 30 Burundian refugees. Flooding in DRC is also wreaking havoc and driving up casualties. Dozens of arrests were made in Zanzibar over alleged homosexuality. A suicide bombing killed 15 people in Nigeria. Kenya continues its election follow-up (and rebuttal.) 

Americas. A gay conversion therapy decision prompted outrage in Brazil. Mexico suffered another crushing earthquake, with over 273 casualties reported. Asylum seekers are still fleeing the U.S. for Canada. Puerto Rico, slammed by Hurricane Maria, could be without power for months. The U.N. General Assembly kicked off this week in New York. Protests raged across St. Louis, Missouri after yet another white police officer was acquitted in the murder of a Black man. The U.S. is getting set to scale back national monuments. Protests continued to rage across St. Louis. Once again, Sen. John McCain of Arizona has killed Trump's health care dreams -- for now.

Asia. India's misogynistic WhatsApp groups. A typhoon left several dead in Japan. Cambodia's spat with the U.S. is deepening. Debates over the Kurdish independence referendum are intensifying. Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi failed to condemn military violence against the Rohingya. Japan has two million residents over the age of 90. Brb googling "dotard." 

Europe. France has been pushing the U.S. not to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The country also has its own drama, over labor reforms. Drama over Catalan independence efforts is going about as well as you might imagine. Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to win re-election in Germany -- but the real story is the rise of a terrifying far-right party. Uber is getting kicked out of London.


 

Spoken & Written

"...love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired?’” -- President Donald Trump, referring to Colin Kaepernick. 


 

Me

Journalism: Hate crimes skyrocketed last year. Back-and-forth on DACA is making life even harder for DREAMers. Trump's U.N. speech was riddled with inaccuracies. Burma's leader tried to blame both sides for the Rohingya genocide. Linguistic mastermind Sergey Lavrov was really excited about Trump's speech. U.S. Jews are anxious and paranoid as the holidays arrive. Earthquake preparedness: a fun topic you should become familiar with!

Anything Goes:

I'm out of town this weekend (PIC's birthday falls between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which has made planning anything hard, so we took the one shot we got) with not a lot to say -- I love being in the South, even the very near South, and I'm especially happy to be in Southern Queer Spaces. There is a lot else to say -- I'm terrified about my thesis, my future, the world, sad for Mexico, Puerto Rico, and so many other places, and really just a mess of emotions as usual -- but for now I am trying to find vegan brunch so I will just say a happy new year to you and yours, even if it isn't new year for you, and I hope you go forth to do good deeds this day. 

 

Aftermath

Blues Buzz

RIP Edie Windsor, a lioness of a woman and a champion for queer people across the U.S. Rhea Butcher on Edie. Images of Edie and Thea in love, and why it matters. One of Australia's "stolen generation" became a celebrated poet. The socialist experiment in Jackson, Mississippi. Female Viking warriors. What medieval historians have in common with Taylor Swift. Celeste Ng and Nicole Chung in conversation. On prayer and poetry. Where progressives fail on intersectionality and identity politics. Masha Gessen: immigrants shouldn't have to be 'talented' to be acceptedMan Booker list. On the disappearance of fireflies. The enduring lessons of communist Poland. When you're genderqueer but your native language is gendered. The great nutrient collapseCleaning the house to stave off grief. More Myles. Hiroshima, the Holocaust, and what it means to be a survivor. Something sweet for the new year.

© E.A. Crunden

© E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Seventeen people were killed after an al Shabab attack in Somalia. Ghana began a program offering free secondary school education. Anti-government protests are raging in Togo. In Sierra Leone, resistance to rehousing efforts remains an ongoing issue after a landslide displaced tens of thousands.

Americas. Venezuelans are now being encouraged to eat rabbits, something many labeled a "bad joke" by President Nicolas Maduro. A queer art exhibition was canceled in Brazil after opposition from right-wing protesters. The president of Brazil has been charged with obstruction of justice. Members of an uncontacted tribe were reportedly massacred by gold miners in Brazil. Hurricane Irma blasted through the Caribbean before hitting the mainland United States, lashing Florida. Islands are still traumatized after Irma. Health care plans abound with no end in sight.

Asia. In Burma, things have gone from terrible to even worse for the Rohingya. Rohingya in Pakistan are livid as they watch the crisis play out. Pour one out for Yair Netanyahu. North Korea faces its toughest-ever sanctions and also fired another missile over Japan. Twenty-four people were killed in Malaysia when a fire broke out at a school. Tunisian women are now free to marry non-Muslims.

Europe. Europe (+ larger NATO) is beefing up for potential war with Russia. The stateless former president of Georgia arrived in Ukraine. French leader Emmanuel Macron is dodging labor protests and uproar. Norway's right-wing government won re-election. Poland violated an E.U.-imposed logging ban in an ancient forest. An explosion hit the London metro system on Friday, injuring numerous people but causing no fatalities. 


Spoken & Written

“I was never her nurse—I’m her lover! I was just doing things to make her comfortable—and that was with loving her and digging her.” -- Edie Windsor, who died this week, on her marriage to Thea Spyer. 

 


Me

Journalism: Amid silence from Trump, Mexico pivots away from international aid to focus on its own crises. One widow's story highlights how much all immigrants, documented or otherwise, are struggling under Trump. On the U.S. Virgin Islands, residents feel abandoned by the mainland after Irma. Buried in the census data is some bad news about income inequality. War games in Russia yay fun! California is one step closer to recognizing non-binary gender. The Trump administration's immigration policies were dealt yet another blow. The new Republican health care effort also seems terrible, water is wet, etc.

Anything Goes:

To say last week was exhausting would be to understate a thing and so I will not. Instead I will just say this -- I am grateful for all of the language I've gained over the course of the past ten years or so. When I left home (and in the time before it, when things were crumbling) I never had the words for what was happening. In the years that followed, I also lacked vocabulary much of the time, something that did damage -- how do you talk about trauma if you can't even call it that? These days I can and do recognize when things have gone wrong, when they don't feel right, when everything is soaring south at breakneck speed. Being able to talk about that is a blessing; I am lucky.

What else to say apart from that? The dreaded thesis is upon me, work is moving quicker than ever, I am even more tired than I was when this year started and when it started I did not think that was a thing that was possible. But again I have to think about these things in terms of luck -- to be employed at all is a blessing (and doing what I want, at that), and soon school will be over with (so, so soon.) Once the hurricane that ripped through my life this week settled (what a time for hurricanes; they are everywhere now) everything seemed to calm and now we've gone to the farmer's market and there are colorful things in my fridge again and also I've enjoyed a few cups of coffee and the weather is growing cooler. All of which is to say that I think I am reaching the age where I am becoming better at weathering natural disasters and that is a relief.

Last but not least, I have been pondering going to Hungary and Poland for a bit when this heinous thing (the thesis -- all 72 pages of it in draft form) is done, and I think I've decided to just do it, so there is that. 

 

Natural disaster

Blues Buzz

Texas the surprise. All-male movie pitches. The reverend and the rabbi. Harvey taught the country about Houston. Poets respond to the end of DACA. Muslim DACA recipients feel like the most unwelcome people in the U.S. RIP Kate Millet. A tough summer to be a Jew

Atlanta, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden

Atlanta, Georgia. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. U.N. investigators accused Burundi's government of crimes against humanity. A leading critic of Rwandan President Paul Kegame has been jailed. Kenya will have a new presidential election. Conflict in CAR continues to spiral.

Americas. Mexico was hit by the strongest earthquake to strike the country in a century. The Pope is in Colombia. Former Brazilian presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff were charged in a spiraling corruption case. The ELN rebel group and the Colombian government have announced a ceasefire. Hurricane Irma slammed through numerous small islands (doing a ridiculous amount of damage) before hitting the mainland U.S. The Equifax crisis. The White House announced an end to DACA, a program that shielded 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Fifteen states and D.C. will sue over the decision.

Asia & Australia. North Korea tested a sixth nuclear bomb, sparking condemnation around the world. Syria's government broke a years-long siege by ISIS on Deir el-Zour. Indian journalist Gauri Lankesh, a critic of the government, was murdered in Bangalore. Israeli jets targeted the Syrian government.

Europe. Macedonia is mourning the death of linguist and activist Ognen Čemerski. The E.U. says Slovakia and Hungary are just going to have to accept refugees. Catalonia, Spain, will hold an independence referendum on October 1. Australia's contentious same-sex marriage survey is a go.


 

Spoken & Written

"When we are with G-d, there are no borders. Man made borders on this earth." -- Rita Ruiz de Guillen, whose son Alonso, a DACA recipient, was killed while helping people during Hurricane Harvey in Texas.


 

Me

Journalism: The White House has put 800,000 young people in danger. The Republicans who won't pass a clean fix for DACA. Students staged protests and walk-outs in the wake of the decision. Trump's policies will make recovering from disasters like Irma much harder for developing areas

Anything Goes:

What a week. Hurricanes and earthquakes and wildfires everywhere, while my head is still pounding from a lack of sleep. Next week begins thesis editing, we're drawing nearer to the High Holy Days, at some point soon we'd like to move apartments, work is frantic, life is frantic, and in all of this I haven't been sleeping or tending to myself in any way. Last night I half-heartedly pulled up therapy resources yet again, a small acknowledgement to the impact I know trauma can have (will have.) As usual I fixated on the price, the time commitment, the vague unknown of it; the tab is still open, and that's all I have to offer you about the subject.

In the lead up to the New Year I always think a lot about good and evil, right and wrong, how to live, how to act, how to be. To say 2017 has felt like that lead up drawn out over nine months so far is to understate something -- we are all well aware, I know, that we are living in dark times. But they feel more ominous recently, perhaps because we're moving into fall, and nature itself will be darker. I live for this sort of weather, but not these times, so there is a conflict playing out of sorts. Mostly I hate the unknown, a sad fact of life and an inevitability in eras like this one. But what to do about that? What is unknown next week will be known soon; this pattern will follow until it doesn't. This year feels like coming down a mountain at breakneck speed, hitting every single thing around along the way. The end is far from over, but what comfort is that?

The real problem, I think, with this current bump along the road in this year of fire and flood is that it has disrupted my patterns. Morning coffee, cooking projects, bike rides, trips to nature, travels -- these are the things I rely on to set everything into alignment again. But schedules and lives are such right now that I have neither the time nor the space to do what I need to in order to feel calm. When turtles are stuck on their backs, their feet kick the air frantically, trying to right themselves. That's how I feel; kicking the air, making no progress, exposed, while a sense of panic sets in. The best descriptor I can manage at the moment. 

A swift rollercoaster ride

Blues Buzz

Texans show up for each other in a time of crisis. The mosques opening their doors to evacuees on a holiday. Public and private disaster in Houston. Reading Jane Eyre while black. Texas forever. New Hemon. Jhumpa Lahiri on Italy and falling in love with a city. These dudes clearly do not understand what Lord of the Flies was actually about. Appalachia's war cry.

The Castro, San Francisco, CA. © E.A. Crunden

The Castro, San Francisco, CA. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. In South Sudan, the U.N. is working to protect citizens. Kenya is taking striding measures against the use of plastic bags. In less exciting news, Kenya also threw out the results of last month's presidential election. In CAR, a Catholic bishop is protecting 2,000 Muslims.

Americas. Canada introduced a gender-neutral X option on passports. Opposition figures are being targeted with alarming frequency in Venezuela. Colombia's FARC rebels are making moves towards becoming a political party. Corruption in Guatemala is spiraling. Two laws that would have targeted immigrants and people seeking abortions were respectively halted in Texas. Which is good, because Texas is reeling from the horrifying impact of Hurricane Harvey, which has claimed dozens of lives and destroyed much of the state's southeastern region, including the sprawling Houston.

Asia. A bomb in Helmand, Afghanistan killed at least 13 people. Violence erupted in India after a famed guru was found guilty of raping his followers. Tempers may finally be cooling between China and India. Flooding across South Asia has displaced 41 million people and killed over a thousand. Mumbai's apartments are falling apart as a result. Burma's minority Rohingya community is becoming more and more precarious. Syria's dictator looks poised to consolidate control as Western countries lose interest.

Europe. Britain's Labour party wants an extended Brexit. In a deeply unpopular move, France's Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron is getting set to overhaul the country's labor laws. Jews are concerned over rising anti-Semitism in Poland.


 

Spoken & Written

“They are the number one priority. They will not be disturbed, they will not be displaced, they will not be moved. People who come, if they have to pray in the parking lot, they’ll pray in the parking lot.” M.J. Khan, the president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.


Me

Journalism: Mexico is ready to help Texas, definitely not paying for the wall. Texans became heroes as Harvey raged. Harvey could worsen and it did. South Asia is also hurting because of climate change. For Katrina survivors, Harvey's toll could be even worse. SB4 was halted late Wednesday night. Well, we're back to U.S.-North Korea drama

Anything Goes:

This week saw some of the most intense highs and lows I've experienced this year and I'm still processing. Southeastern Texas is under water; I watched alerts and updates from loved ones fly past me on the internet all week, while footage of sobbing Texans flashed across the TV screens that surround me at work. It was traumatizing but also captivating -- I kept watching, hoping that if I wrote about everything, got it all down, I would feel closer to home, as opposed to sitting in D.C., feeling useless.

The week ended with terror over DACA, the repeal of which would hurt even more people, ruin even more lives. I sat on Friday, in a state of suspended horror, waiting for some new fresh hell to unfold, worrying about loved ones and unknown ones and all of the bodies put in danger this year. In that way, it was a week like many of the weeks we've all marked since January.

But it was also completely different. My favorite person in all things has been waiting for months (years, really; when does the process of wanting something begin? how do you measure waiting?) to hear back from jobs. International students in the U.S. have only so much time to apply and wait; at a certain point, the clock runs out. This happened last time and we were devastated. This year has felt like deja vu, that same creeping dread. But on Friday we sat waiting on a call (would she get it? wouldn't she?) and then beams abounded, we ordered drinks, we're spending a weekend celebrating and toasting our good fortune. It seems we'll have at least another year before these conversations come up again and, H1B lottery providing, maybe even longer.

It seems terrible to feel joyful while other people are suffering. I don't know how to multitask these things -- the personal win, the personal loss, the more removed loss that comes from any sort of empathy towards others. Even in posting good news to friends I felt the need to make caveats. To be clear I do think this is how it should be; your joy does not necessarily counter another's pain, and no one inherently deserves anything more or less than anyone else. So to that end, I am very glad to have a reason for joy, and I hope everyone else, especially those most precarious right now, soon will to. 

Home is a hurricane

Washington, D.C. © E.A. Crunden

Washington, D.C. © E.A. Crunden

 

 


Around the Globe

Africa. Zimbabwe's fist lady was granted diplomatic immunity after attacking a young model. Sierra Leone is still facing fallout from a mudslide that killed over 500 people. Anti-government protests have plagued Togo. 

Americas. Brazil is opening an Amazon reserve up to mining. Venezuela's chief prosecutor, now a wanted woman, heads to Brazil. Chilean families are working towards accepting transgender children. NAFTA talks are moving...quickly. The bodies of Navy soldiers were pulled from the Pacific Ocean following their ship's collision with an oil tanker. An execution was stayed in Missouri.  Texas' voter ID law suffered a severe blow. Texas was hit with a massive hurricane, which played out as Trump issued a ban barring transgender military service members (and also pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio.)

Asia & Australia. China-India relations are still souring by the day. Triple talaq dies in India. The U.S. will now process all non-immigrant visas from Russia in Moscow only. Australia's same-sex marriage debate is STILL ongoing. Indian citizens have a right to privacy, the Supreme Court ruled. North Korea fired another missile. Thailand's former prime minister fled the country.

Europe. Swedish journalist Kim Wall's remains were recovered. Poland is working to boost its military. Russia's ambassador to Sudan is only the latest Russian diplomat to die suddenly. The British government mistakenly told a ton of E.U. citizens they needed to leave.


 

Spoken & Written

“Good luck to everybody. They’re going to be safe. Good luck to everybody. Good luck.” -- President Donald Trump upon being asked if he had any words for Texans facing down a hurricane


Me

Journalism: Trump's plan in Afghanistan may have been prompted by a few other factors. Here's what happens when white supremacy goes viral. U.N. human rights experts slammed the U.S. over racism. I got to chat with Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher about Take My Wife. What is Jared Kushner doing in the Middle East? Hurricane Harvey slammed Texas while Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio and banned transgender military members. The horrifying legacy of Arpaio.

Anything Goes:

We're away this weekend, back down South, which means I'm surrounded by things more familiar to my younger self than usual. Atlanta's hardly Austin, but there's a strange continuity I've found that exists below the Mason-Dixon Line and I can never put my finger on it. It's hotter, obviously, and the food is better, but there are other things, things I never think about until they're in my face. How the music is the same, for example, or how everyone seems kinder, friendlier, more interested in you, whoever you might be.  There's a familiarity here, one I find natural, easy, and disconcerting.

Meanwhile, my actual home, the one permanently inked on my arm and forever on replay in my head and heart, is seeing one of the most powerful storms to hit the U.S. in recent history. Watching news coverage out of Texas reminds me of a summer years ago, when an oil spill crept along the Gulf Coast, ultimately making its way to that largest and looming of mainland states. I remember that slow creep of fear, and how it felt when the oil finally arrived. No such creep here -- the hurricane has hit and the devastation has been immediate. But that feeling is the same, that dread. Watching and waiting while far away is really the only option in these situations for me now but still. It isn't easier.

Sitting in Atlanta, away from D.C., and watching Texas, I keep thinking about home, space, and impact. How it is all relative and yet, not relative at all. Is space a social construct? I have questions.

 

"Many sides"

Blues Buzz

On being black and brown in Trump country. Why white supremacists go after Jews. On asking Jews to be more anti-Nazi. Liberalism has failed in the face of white supremacy. White supremacy is as American as apple pie. When Pakistan feels like an LA noir. D.C.'s electric cab drivers need help. Greenland is on fire. Skin in the game. WTF IS THIS FRUITCAKE. A changing landscape for abortion rights in Texas. Also in Texas: the death of the "bathroom" bill. Richard Spencer crying. Black, Jewish, gay, and using food as a weapon against bigotry. How many times am I touched in a week? Pakistani doctors are being refused visas to come to the U.S. -- and it's hurting rural health. An open letter to Jews in the U.S., Israel, and everywhere. Adam Serwer on General Lee. Black Charlottesville.

San Francisco, CA. © E.A. Crunden

San Francisco, CA. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. Several people have died in election-linked violence in Kenya. Nigeria's president is still ailing. Over 400 people died during a horrifying mudslide in Sierra Leone. Zimbabwe's first lady turned herself in after allegedly assaulting a woman. A gunman in Burkina Faso killed 18 people in a cafe. Zambia's opposition leader was arrested

Americas. Venezuela vs. the U.S. A fight over land is heating up in Brazil. A white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia resulted in the deaths of three people, one of whom was killed when a white nationalist hit her with his car (another 19 people were simultaneously injured.) Trump took a long time to condemn the events, then promptly walked his condemnation back. Steve Bannon is out.

Asia. Several members of the White Helmets were killed in Syria. India and Pakistan marked 70 years of independence. A suicide bombing in Pakistan killed at least 15 people in Quetta. Clashes along the India-China border are intensifying. More than 32 people were killed in a day as the Philippines continues its violent crackdown on drugs and crime. "Umbrella" activists in Hong Kong are being jailed. A 10-year-old raped in India and denied an abortion gave birth to her child.

Europe. A freelance journalist may have been murdered in Denmark. Polish activists blocked a far-right demonstration. Thirteen people were killed and over 100 injured when a van plowed into a crowd in Barcelona, Spain; it has been confirmed as an extremist attack. A second attack was confirmed hours later. Another setback for marriage equality in Northern Ireland. Neo-Nazis marched in Berlin.


 

Spoken & Written

“Jews will not replace us!" -- Neo-Nazi white nationalist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. 


Me

Journalism: Around the world, condemnation over what happened in Charlottesville has been swift. Before Charlottesville, the Trump administration eliminated funding for an organization working to de-radicalize white nationalists. Amid white nationalist rallies and warring over Confederate monuments, a battle is waging. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's son argued leftists are worse than neo-Nazis. At least two politicians want to take down the monuments to white supremacy in the U.S. Capitol. Barcelona's horror. Texas' redistricting battle is just getting started.

Anything Goes:

It was A Week. I wrote about Charlottesville almost every day of it, and now it's the weekend and I'm worn out and down. Most of this week I've spent thinking about trauma and hierarchies and who gets to be hurt and who is allowed to take up space and who is centered and how all of those things shift so much in communities and bubbles. I'm angry at a lot of people right now, alienated from a lot of people right now, and, for the time being, alone; PIC had to travel elsewhere for the weekend. That's meant a lot of time to think and stew (a net positive or negative, I can't really say.) Now it's me and my thesis for the next two days, as well as me and my exhaustion. I have so many thoughts about things to write and no energy. On the bright side, I have found background music for this trying time: The National -- I Should Live In Salt. That's all I've got, really.