Let’s just build a statue of Megan Rapinoe

A lot of nothing to say

Honestly, there’s so much going on right now in my life, so little of it great or even remotely good, that I keep kicking this newsletter down the road! I’m sorry, trash year, etc! But the longer you sit on something the more it festers and swells until doing it just becomes an impossible, unfathomable task, and so I am sending this now anyways, for the sake of checking something off a list, anything.

There have been some good things, recently. We went to Madison, Wisconsin two weeks ago, very briefly, and it was nice in a strange way and not the way I expected. Increasingly we’re planning our travel more intentionally: would we live here? is this a place that is livable for us as we are now, people in our late 20s, with slightly more financial flexibility and higher standards, but also crushing debt and constrained means? what is the weather like and do people look like us? what do they eat here? really, most of all, is this better than D.C., or would we be gaining some things only to sacrifice others?

Madison is relatively small by my standards (Austinite born into a medium-sized Austin that grew into a roaring Austin) and very small by my partner’s standards (from a city of 11 million people). The cons are that it is incredibly white, the food scene is a bit different than what either of us have grown into or grown from (dairy! everywhere!), and the jobs are not necessarily abundant. The perks are that it is green and full of water, there are many bike trails, the people are kind and friendly and many are queer, and the weather is much cooler. Would we live there? We weren’t sure and we still aren’t. We flew back to D.C. and there was the cat, our friends, our life. For now, nothing is really decided at all, there are so many more places to see and assess, that it already feels like a far-off thing, a brief time when we were surrounded by lakes on both sides and newly experiencing cheese curds and frozen custard, full of new awe.

Other things are good. The (women’s) World Cup has taken over my life. Did I play sports as a child? No. Did I ever follow them? No. I’ve grown into soccer (football, etc, mea culpa) and into how special women’s sports are, especially women’s sports dominated by queer people and people who speak up and fight for things I too cherish and hold dear. I feel so fortunate to have evolved into that and the things that it has brought me. In the middle of an absolutely miserable Friday I threw in the towel and went to sit with a close friend and watch the U.S.-France match and I just remembered what it was like to feel EXTREME ANXIETY about something not serious for a change. They won and I’m still celebrating, run me over with a truck Megan Rapinoe.

+ my cat is getting better, slowly, I have some very generous people in my life, etc, etc. And in a few days I’m heading back to one of my forever homes to watch one of my favorite people from undergrad get married and that is such a good thing and I am so genuinely happy about it and it feels really nice to be excited about something, truly.

Madison, Wisconsin. © E.A. Crunden

Madison, Wisconsin. © E.A. Crunden

Green Scene

Me: Former EPA heads offered a bipartisan pushback against the Trump administration. With hurricane season underway, FEMA is still short thousands of staff. Experts increasingly agree that climate change will harm global stability and national security — but the U.S. military itself is a major emitter.

Pretty much everyone agrees that Trump’s big effort to save coal is not going to save coal. On emissions, it’s California vs. Trump. Oregon’s path to climate action has devolved into an incredible saga involving runaway Republicans, the state police, and threats of armed retaliation — which may not have been necessary, as Democrats say they never had the votes.

Jay Inslee’s latest climate plan adds momentum to the movement to hold fossil fuel giants accountable for global warming. The first Democratic debates played out in Miami, a city dubbed “ground zero” for climate impacts. Debate post-mortems: four of the Democratic contenders say climate change is the leading geopolitical threat to the U.S.; climate got more time than ever (less than 6% of questions) and advocates say it still wasn’t enough.

Elsewhere: After Hurricane Michael, Florida schools are still “begging for help.'“ How enough floating plastic could change the sea. Can historic preservation cool down a hot neighborhood? At USDA, a growing rift over climate science. The Bay Area butterflies fighting for survival. Miners are dying while their bosses deny them safety equipment. Obama’s USDA helped distort data at the expense of black farmers.

Blues Buzz

Why does liking your body still seem so radical? Two Texans are running for president — this is a good breakdown of how the national press has failed at covering them. I hate swimming pools and this nicely elaborated on why. Life, death, and getting lost in Houston’s queerest neighborhood. Walkin’ away from Oklahoma. If you were a kid who read a lot, you may remember the book Catherine, Called Birdy, and if so it is really a requirement that you read this beautiful tribute to how queer and feminist it is.

I’ve always had many feelings about the cis, feminine, white, middle class women hailed as icons of representation in TV and literature and here, finally, is the article burning it all down. Two queer women on a date were violently attacked in the U.K. and this op-ed from one is worth your time. Abortion access in Mississippi: one person at a time. This long read on the mystery of a Malaysian plane (now MIA for five years) was gripping. Elizabeth Warren is completely serious. Your read of the summer just might be this lesbian cruise piece that is ABSOLUTELY NUTS AND HIGH-DRAMA!

Drunk at Epcot. The fight to bring NPR back to the Rio Grande Valley. Alanis at 45. Why do we ignore the suffering in the poetry of queer writers like Mary Oliver and Elizabeth Bishop?

Spoken & Written

Rebecca Lieu, on the type of women in the art we consume: ”This art revolves around an archetypical Young Millennial Woman – pretty, white, cisgender, and tortured enough to be interesting but not enough to be repulsive. Often described as ‘relatable,’ she is, in actuality, not.”

Laurie Bertram Roberts, on her approach to abortion in Mississippi: “When we say we trust black women, we mean that. We give them cash to do what they need to do, because they know their lives better than anybody else.”


  • This poem.

  • Stay cool, y’all. It’s hot out there.

Absolute panic mode

Nothing great!

We were in Austin for a week and initially I planned to write a lot about all my complicated feelings about home, where I haven’t lived in a decade. In my absence, the city I grew up in (and love a lot) has rapidly gentrified, mass-displaced locals, and changed to an extent where I largely don’t recognize many parts of it. I have so many feelings about what’s happened there (and they range, if I’m honest — not all change is bad, even if I hate it) and that was on my mind all of last week, even on top of the joy of seeing loved ones I don’t get to be around very often.

…but it all got buried by a series of crises! First, it took us 24 hours to get home, with a five-hour delay in Austin, an overnight in Dallas (hi, Dallas, thanks for having us and being 10 Fahrenheit degrees cooler than Austin), a brief flight to Savannah, and then back to D.C. We arrived and it was hot and muggy and awful, but we were glad to be home. Until we opened the door and quickly realized our cat had developed an infection! That subsequently resulted in a series of vet appointments, some of which were very frustrating, and a lot of hassle on our end. American work culture means that working from home should be easy for jobs like mine (where I really just need a computer and a phone), but there’s still a lot of resistance to that, and so this week quickly spiraled.

…made worse by a broken air conditioning unit! Another reason for the work from home needs. I’m not a big a/c person (in that I grew up in central Texas and our a/c was broken a lot and I survived and also I know very extensively what they do to the environment) but to preserve my relationship and also keep my cat alive it’s a necessity. So a lot of this week was spent locked in my room with the cat, trying to keep him away from repair workers, while trying to write stories on a make-shift desk with every window open and every fan going. All while everything else was slowly escalating around me, none of which I can really go into because it involves work and friends and so many other things (minus my toe, my toe is still a mess and that I can tell everyone, it is very gross and I am very sorry). By Friday I finally cried, which is a nod to how long everything had been brewing, as I do not cry, really, at all, ever.

Anyways, it was an abysmal week and there is really no nice way to say that! I’ve been trying to find a silver lining and honestly I am very happy that my cat seems to be surviving everything okay and he is still very annoying, which is promising in terms of his recovery. There are also cherries and strawberries at the farmer’s market now and they bring me great joy. So there’s that, at least.

Hometown featuring buried scooter. © E.A. Crunden

Hometown featuring buried scooter. © E.A. Crunden

Green Scene

Me: I spent A LOT of work on this VERY LONG feature about hurricane recovery, examining the experiences of aid workers and impacted communities in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and North Carolina. It can be a challenge to compare recovery experiences, but no matter who I spoke with, everyone agreed: the system isn’t working.

AND, BROUGHT TO YOU LIVE FROM TEXAS: This story about Austin’s climate action plans, including endorsing the Green New Deal in a state powered by fossil fuels.

Others: Wildfire fighting jobs and funding are taking hits as the West prepares for another brutal season. The Trump administration joined energy-rich states in seeking to crack down on pipeline protesters. Biden has a climate plan, but will you love it, not sure! Government intelligence experts are worried about climate change. The DNC nixed a climate-centric debate, even though the issue is almost always ignored during general debates. A majority of 2020 Democrats have signed the No Fossil Fuel Money pledge — but what does that mean?

Elsewhere: Southeast Alaska is experiencing its first-ever recorded extreme drought. The Southeast’s fire recommendations for the West Coast. The Permian is booming, but at what cost to West Texas? Farmers are using Instagram to document climate change. Exxon and Chevron face climate scrutiny from shareholders. Soil health and the climate crisis.

84 environmental rules on the way out under Trump. South Asia boils as another devastating summer heats up. Climate change is causing growth spurts in old trees. Water is breaking the Corn Belt and rain keeps coming. This is an absolutely devastating look at what Hurricane Michael did to Mexico Beach, Florida, where residents are still stuck in limbo. Rain is burying Texas.

Blues Buzz

“Brooklynization” my ass. On the low, low bar for “good men.” The incredible Kristen Arnett, queen of Florida lesbian literature. This is a fascinating deep dive into the suicide rate in rural East Texas. The ultra-running maids of Hong Kong. How do we reclaim U.S. cities for people who walk? How millennials afford houses (hint: parent money or personal tragedy.) Shifting the Southern narrative. Discussions of the Central Park Five have left out the stories of the women impacted by the wider tragedy.

Spoken & Written

Katherine Webb-Hehn responds to Northerners in the New York Times: “Southerners, mostly those of us with a uterus, are furious. We’re heartbroken and tired. We don't agree with this ban. What we don’t need right now is outsider condescension or dimwitted reactions.”

Becca, a homeowner: “In a better America, with excellent schools and public transportation designed in urban areas that can economically power the nation and leave us more resilient to climate change, we wouldn't be having these conversations.”


Honestly, my main recommendation to everyone is to do the nicest thing possible for yourselves, since I know very few people having an easy time right now. I’m headed to Wisconsin next weekend for a hot second and I’m excited. I’m also pumped to read Kristen Arnett’s new book!

Love it if we made it

Modernity, failure

In the days before I leave for some place else, I feel the way I used to feel at the end of semesters in undergrad, which is to say: like there is a cliff coming and after it, nothing matters. The looming prospect of leaving, even if for only a few days, feels like liberation, and everything else seems reduced in its importance. To be clear, this is a terrible way of approaching vacation, or even just remote work, but I’m off to Texas this week and I have absolutely been living the last few days like there’s no tomorrow, even though I will in fact be back in D.C. after Texas. My job and personal life will still exist! And yet, and yet.

It has really been A Week, though, beginning with the big toe on my left foot, which I helpfully decimated two Thursdays ago. Absolutely no need for details but I spent this past Thursday morning sitting in Urgent Care and reflecting about my evolution on doctors, which to some people isn’t an evolution. I never grew up going to the doctor (the affliction of the low-income; I once helped pop my mother’s dislocated shoulder back in to place so we wouldn’t have extra medical expenses) and it always bothers me how comfortable people treat pain or illness, hopping to a professional every time they cough, without ever thinking twice.

That having been said, some things are wildly important (vaccines!!!!) and I’ve always been told my father died precisely because he never went to the doctor, so I’ve tried to be better as I’ve gotten older and developed an actual income. Anyways I ripped my toe to shit and actually went to a doctor to address the issue and was pretty proud of myself! And then I subsequently looked around to see if anyone has written the definitive thinkpiece yet on millennials going to Urgent Care, as opposed to the ER or scheduling a doctor’s appointment. (I didn’t find it, but I’m sure it exists.)

All of that — the pre-trip feeling of burning everything down and also the toe crisis — came in the midst of a week when I saw The 1975 in concert. The 1975 are a slightly embarrassing band and most of my music is slightly embarrassing — I grew up on white male alt rock and it influences pretty much all of my musical choices and I’m very sorry but it is what it is! Anyways it was a concert filled with teenagers, which should’ve been embarrassing but was actually touching (I was a 15-year-old at a concert once and I hope it means to them what it meant to me) and one song in particular has stuck with me. A thing I feel decisively about Our Current Moment, the one we’re living in, is that I’m so glad I’m in my late 20s, and not an undergrad or, worse yet, a teenager. Everything always feels like a crisis but it felt like a crisis when I was a teenager and things were nowhere near as terrible, so I can’t even imagine coping with it today, in the era of crisis. And there was something about thousands of teenagers — the Parkland generation, no less — belting out “modernity has failed us” and “love it if we made it” over and over again. Music is so important and it’s a gift to be able to experience it with others, etc, etc.

Apart from everything else, I’ve had my head down, working on a very long piece about hurricane recovery and all the ways the system isn’t working. Long pieces are a privilege in a small newsroom, but it’s hard not to focus on the limitations that setting imposes. To produce a feature and still churn out quicker pieces, while monitoring news, is a challenge. So is doing justice to the piece itself — I’m reliant on phone calls over on-the-ground reporting, I have an imposed deadline that limits the overall amount of information I can gather, and in general there are just fewer resources and less access. So, it’s a give and take, and one that’s dominated the past three weeks of my life.

But, now I’m off to the Lone Star State, and I have a lot of feelings about that, none of which I’m ready to unpack! I’m bracing myself for heat and sweat and excited to see people I love and to fucking finally eat real-ass breakfast tacos that taste the way they’re supposed to taste. And then I’ll be back and resetting from zero, or whatever it is you do after you leave a place and then come back to it.

Cats are good and mine is excellent. © E.A. Crunden

Cats are good and mine is excellent. © E.A. Crunden

Green Scene

Me: As coal companies go bankrupt, their workers are paying the price. The powerful Sunrise Movement is looking to the 2020 election. The Williams pipeline and Cuomo’s climate plans are in opposition, activists say. Inslee’s new plan works to undercut any argument against climate-labor unity. Agriculture’s resistance to addressing climate change isn’t going away. Communities that have been historically redlined now appear to suffer from increased asthma rates along with exposure to pollution.

Republican-led Maryland joins the clean energy state uprising. A disaster aid bill stopped short of becoming a pre-Memorial Day reality…thanks to one Texas Republican (and that says a lot about the wider state of disaster relief.)

Elsewhere: Ecological devastation in the poorest town in the poorest state. Minden finally becomes a priority. Louisiana’s massive strategy for managing coastal retreat amid climate impacts. Coal ash haunted Puerto Rico — now, it could haunt Puerto Ricans in Florida. Grief and the Great Barrier Reef.

A brilliant ProPublica investigation finds that carbon credits don’t work. Ravens are empaths! The Mississippi Delta has been abandoned to environmental injustices. Microplastics are changing one Southern river. The belugas that won’t bounce back. A normal hurricane season is in the forecast — but don’t get too relaxed. Climate change is set to impact Maori culture in New Zealand.

Blues Buzz

Appalachians were promised coding jobs — they were lied to, again. Queer language, before queer identity. The South, in pictures. Let’s talk about masculinity. The Jewish and Muslim voices going ignored in our current onslaught of feuding. LGBTQ couples with mixed-citizenship families are running into a nightmare immigration system when they have children abroad. Don’t let people enjoy things.

NPR’s 2019 Tiny Desk winner is an indigenous Alaskan trans man, who performed his song in front of a painting of Denali National Park. Few things have impacted me as deeply as this story about the close friendship between an evangelical Christian high schooler and her friend, an exchange student from Pakistan, who was murdered during a school shooting. Authenticity is a lie. Anita Hill worries 2020 women candidates aren’t being taken seriously. Queer people are under fire in Poland’s election cycle. Antisemitism is on the rise in Germany.

Spoken & Written

Lacy Johnson, on what to label masculinity: “Violence isn’t an inevitable part of men’s lives, but rather a set of choices, actions, attitudes, and the permissions we give to allow them to go on being violent in a thousand different ways.”

Kate Wagner, on people who argue that they should be allowed to enjoy problematic things: “Second, I introduce this radical idea: you can still enjoy things while being critical of them—it can even lead to a greater appreciation of societal and historical context, and it can make you usefully wary of the role the shit forces of the world play in the media we consume.”


  • This song by The 1975, and all the imagery that comes with it.

  • Going home, or to a place that feels like home! I am now off to Austin and feeling pretty good about it.

All the water in the world

Somewhere, it’s raining

Part of the problem with pre-writing anything and scheduling it is how much can change, even in the few hours that may pass in between. When I wrote my last newsletter I was counting down the hours until Pesach wrapped; when it published I was reading about another shooting at a synagogue. It felt strange when it arrived in my inbox, but I think that is sort of the nature of things these days “now,” or whatever we’re calling this particular moment in human history, which began at some point (I’m not sure when) and will I think maybe end at some point (I’m not sure when.) We’ll be not like this, I think, although I’m not sure when.

Anyways, even that feels forever ago. It’s been so long since Pesach and now it’s Ramzan and that doesn’t impact me much in that I’m not Muslim but does a lot in that people I care about are. So I have a lot of fasting people around me, which is unappealing in that I have solidarity pangs (I absolutely hate my once-a-year Yom Kippur fast), and kind of appealing in that I always appreciate the things people do to better themselves and the ways in which they make and cement community. If you’re celebrating, Ramzan mubarak (or Ramadan kareem, my world is very Urdu-heavy, sorry)!

Pesach being gone also means spring is fading — another strange thing. Starting off a year always feels dramatic and then suddenly five months have gone by and everything feels much farther along. At the beginning of this year I made so many plans and some of them are buzzing along and some of them are barely even ideas anymore and some of them I’m kicking on and on down the road, repeatedly, to a later date when I have the time or energy or willpower. So much of my life is thinking about climate policy and politics, because that’s my job, and so much of the rest of my life is just putting my head into books or going to the gym, or forcing myself onto a bike in the hopes of being less scared of it, maybe, eventually. The prospect of doing anything else feels really daunting and it always has and nothing about it being 2019 and not 2018 really changed that.

I did consciously decide to revise this newsletter a bit at the beginning of the year, something that has happened, slowly and bumpily. Once this was a space for me to follow world news and now it isn’t, and that broke my heart a little bit but great news, life goes on. I used to spend my time thinking about maps and places I’d never been to or had been to and wanted to be again; now, I think a lot about the 2018 IPCC report and whether or not 2050 and not 2030 is a timeline to go to war over on Twitter and also whether I’ve properly explained carbon pricing to a reader who might be baffled. So far, this year has been a lot of me thinking about who I was when I came to D.C. and who I am now and deciding if I’m alright with the changes and honestly I have no idea! But if I’m going to change anyway, does it really matter?

During a shift this weekend I wrote about the flooding in Texas that killed someone in my hometown and immediately afterwards it began pouring rain in D.C. I think less now about places that are far away and more about how all places are near, to some extent, and how things impact and shape them all at the same time, or slowly in a series of moments, one after the other. More and more I think about eventually leaving D.C. and going somewhere else, probably somewhere I’ve never lived before and weirdly probably some place in this country, even though I always thought I would be leaving here by now. And it will probably be raining there too, maybe after passing over Texas first, and I will probably think about that also, and it will probably mean something to me then, too.

Downtown Portland. © E.A. Crunden

Downtown Portland. © E.A. Crunden

Green Scene

Me: Beto O’Rourke’s first major policy was a climate change proposal. (And Jay Inslee has one too!) An uncontroversial Paris Agreement bill offered House Democrats an easy win on climate action and on posturing. The Interior Department slashed offshore safety measures put in place after the BP oil spill.

Great news, PFAS is everywhere. The solar industry is white and male. While stalling on disaster aid, Trump visited the devastated Florida Panhandle this week. Thirty-four Republicans also broke ranks to pass the disaster bill out of the House — but it may be doomed in the Senate. And deadly flooding has inundated Texas, as the contiguous U.S. marks its 12 wettest months on record.

Elsewhere: Climate change and your eating habits. Why have America’s black farmers disappeared? The U.N. says that 1 million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction thanks to humans. Absolutely read about moving 1 million people out of the way of a cyclone and how India is getting better at addressing extreme weather. Farming is heading indoors as climate impacts mount. America’s most polluted coal ash site is in Texas.

Relatedly: In the Texas Hill Country, it’s property owners vs. pipelines. The Midwestern floods are pitting communities against each other. CityLab had a great piece on mapping environmental justice across cities. The U.K. is preparing for a 4˚C rise globally. The Guardian is looking at cancer alley. And to finish you with Texas, Austin voted this week to back the Green New Deal.

Blues Buzz

I’m not a religious person but.” Antisemitism and Islamophobia go hand-in-hand. Nova Scotia is the most underrated Canadian province and Keji is wonderful. The Blackfeet Nation wants its own national park. Let us consider: Ali Smith. Unconscious bias is running for president. Queer baking in the South as a means of comfort. The problem with giving Armenia credit for Georgia’s national dish.

Looking at West Virginia through the eyes of the people who actually live there. Elizabeth Bishop and coming out late. Stonewall at 50, including a lovely reflection on why a queer riot in NYC might not be as meaningful for queer Southerners as our own history.

Spoken & Written

Murtaza Hussain on the bigotry facing Jews and Muslims: “The fact is that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the West flow from one source: the quest for ethnic purity. Those who accept one bigotry while thinking they will be safe from the other are living a delusion.”

Bryan Washington, on queer Southern baking: “There’s something to be said about the role of queer bakers: we often end up providing comfort to those who may not have given it to us.”


  • This is probably mortifying but I’m re-reading a number of Sarah Waters books; historical lesbian romances are underrated excellence!!!!

  • My partner pushed us to buy rhubarb last weekend and we took The Best Recipe In The World and replaced the plums with rhubarb and berries, and folks, it was excellent.

From all other nights

Passing over

I skipped sending out this newsletter last weekend because I had just come back from a vacation and because I was working and also feeling a bit overwhelmed and also it’s Pesach. Now I’m back in my routine and it’s still Pesach but I will get to eat bread this weekend, finally, and I am very much looking forward to that.

Passover is an important holiday to me — the one closest to my birthday and one of the most important holidays, period, but also one that manages to be important without being wholly miserable (which, I’m sorry, is exactly what Yom Kippur is, A MISERY), and also one that is as much about joy as it is about suffering and I like that nuance. Not many of my close friends are Jewish in D.C. but we typically hold a large seder and invite everyone and I get to explain Hebrew to a group of people who have no idea what’s going on and frankly it’s great. But we didn’t have a big seder this year, we had a teeny tiny one. No afikomen, no multi-hour event. It felt strange to do but there really wasn’t any way around it — because work, because schedules, because everything just feels off right now — and ultimately I was glad we kept it minimal.

Now it’s over and April is nearly over and I’m blue about it. April is supposed to be the cruelest month and for me it actually is, since I have conflicted feelings about my birthday, and also it feels like a time when shit hits the fan? That has absolutely happened this year and it definitely turned my “vacation” into not a vacation at all! But that’s in the past now and it’s nearly May which means it’s nearly summer, my absolute least favorite time and coincidentally everyone else’s favorite time. One of my favorite social experiments is documenting how much summer-lovers want their hatred of winter tolerated and accounted for while simultaneously deriding every person who hates summer as a bundle of fun-hating negativity. (I am, for the record, very pale and prone to both severe sunburn and also nausea while dehydrated, but go off I guess!) Anyways, D.C. summer is agony and it is imminent, I am so sorry in advance about my mood.

But back to Pesach. One of my maybe most unpopular thoughts is that it’s good to give things up and that a fundamental thing people miss about religion is that it offers the opportunity to routinely give things up in a way that is healthy, contained, and intentional. My defining childhood memory of my father is when I split open my toe on the edge of a desk and he chose to douse it with alcohol instead of hydrogen peroxide while pointedly telling me over my yowls that things are only working if they hurt. I’m sure that idea can be deeply misused but I also think it can be useful if you’re responsible with it. (No pain, no gain, etc.) So I don’t eat things that rise during Pesach and I don’t eat anything at all on Yom Kippur, because I think it’s good to have to think a bit more carefully about the things we have, when we so easily might not have them.

And to a slightly different end, I also think everything all the time isn’t good, especially as the sort of person who absolutely wants everything all the time. This newsletter is a great example — it was daily when it was born and it was jam-packed with too many things and had a readership of less than 10 people. What is it now? I don’t really know, mostly because it keeps changing along with my own life and times and reality. That reality is going busier and also more focused, which hurts a lot in that I’m losing large parts of the everything that I want all the time. But I also think it’s not healthy. And what’s the point of everything if you’re not doing a good job, when you could just have some things and do a great job?

That’s a really long way of saying I’m cutting back parts of this newsletter, just like I’m cutting back parts of my life. It’s all in that painful restructuring phase that I hate, because I don’t like growth and I don’t like change. But it’s a new year for me personally, an April baby, and so here we go, again.

Blues Buzz

Someone is always trying to kill you.” Could “Heartland visas” reduce geographic inequality? What it means to have a “good” passport. Flying while transgender — specifically, while non-binary. Kaveh Akbar’s “The Palace” is finally here. A very normal Carmen Maria Machado interview. This deep dive into what’s happening in Waco is fascinating. Moving back to West Virginia, in fiction and in life. Houston has something to say to Democrats. After nearly 30 years and eyeing his presidential campaign, Joe Biden finally called Anita Hill — who says he didn’t even really apologize.

Portland’s finest Russian cuisine. © E.A. Crunden

Portland’s finest Russian cuisine. © E.A. Crunden

Green Scene

Me: Puerto Rico is caught between its renewable dreams and fossil fuels. Minnesota’s radical, youth-driven Green New Deal. Despite bipartisan uproar over offshore drilling, coastal Republicans (and Angus King) voted to confirm David Bernhardt. Some Democratic 2020 contenders want a debate solely focused on climate change. Opposition to offshore drilling in South Carolina offered an opening to 2020 Democratic presidential contenders (more on that below).

Pruitt and Zinke: from Washington back to industry. Iowa’s quiet water crisis. Scandals are mounting under Bernhardt at Interior. The department has also sidelined offshore drilling plans amid legal setbacks, bipartisan coastal uproar, and growing attention from 2020 contenders.

Elsewhere: What remains of Bears Ears. Toxic chemicals are becoming a big post-disaster problem. In Clarkston, Georgia, a growing conversation about “climate refugees.” Life and death in a medieval Polish forest. One of the bleaker interviews you’ll read. How we lost consensus on global warming. An Alabama power plant says it spilled 700 gallons of chemicals just before a mass fish kill. Know your plastics.

Spoken & Written

“It no longer seems rational to assume that humanity, encountering an existential threat, will behave rationally.” — Nathaniel Rich


  • My bffl made me a matzo lasagna dinner for a belated birthday dinner and it was shockingly excellent?? Recipe here. (She cooks things professionally so yours may be less excellent, as was mine, but I still believe in you.)

  • I’ve been drowning in poetry lately and I keep thinking about this Ilya Kaminsky poem.

Spring plague

Big sick

I spent the last two weeks sick and I’ve now completely recalled what that state feels like, because I think somehow I forgot. Right down to the reminder that, regardless of how bad things may seem at any given time when you’re “well,” there is something about illness that serves to remind you that yes, you can in fact be more miserable. I’m a terrible sick person, largely because I’ve lived the overwhelming majority of my life as a highly self-sufficient person, something being the child of death and divorce helped along, as did running away from home. I like to run everything myself and on my own time, something that requires me to be somewhat functioning at all times.

And when you’re sick you aren’t really functioning, especially not sick the way that I get sick. It entertains my friends that I never learned to cough or sneeze or throw up properly — not sure what happened there…I just never learned, and no, you are not going to be able to teach me, I promise you! — but it means that when I have a cough, for example, it’s an all-consuming thing involving my full body heaving, repeatedly, sometimes embarrassingly in public. It makes going to work or getting anything done hard, and it also takes an intense toll on me, to the point where I’m out of commission for days.

Which sums up the last 14 days or so! In the middle of the hacking and heaving, I remembered what I always remember about being sick, which is that even base-level misery as it applies to unhappiness with life, work, whatever, really requires some measure of space in your brain. Space you probably don’t have when you’re deathly ill, to be honest. So you’re still miserable, just for different reasons. Anyways.

At this point I’m not really “sick” anymore, per se, just coughing occasionally, which, if history is any indicator, will continue for several more weeks. Before I became a vegetarian, joined a gym, and started making almost everything from scratch (my post-Pakistan antics), I used to be sick constantly and it just never left, ever. These days I’m mostly fine (I’m a sickly person in general and will probably die that way, but still mostly fine) but when I am sick, I’m sick forever.

So, I’ve been sick, and I’ve been working, because the nature of U.S. work culture is that you never stop and you never rest and you are never really well. More and more as I wind down my 20s I feel dissatisfaction with how Americans approach work, something I thought about acutely as I was hacking up a lung on every street in Mount Pleasant and downtown D.C., attracting the attention of everyone around me. There’s something about being sick and the clarity it gives you — why am I prioritizing this assignment or this pitch or Twitter or whatever when I should be in bed or drinking tea or any number of other things? It all felt a bit like I was breaking up with D.C., which, fairly or unfairly, is widely seen as a city all about work, and maybe I was, but hey, I still live here and have no immediate plans to leave, so what can be done, really.

Blues Buzz

The complicated wonders of crossing the U.S. by train. Shrill lets down its black lesbian character. The #MeToo movement is coming for Joe Biden — and many argue that his long history of failing to support women and people of color makes him unqualified to be president. Bryan Washington, the prince of Houston. On Florida writers and taking care of your community. You’re more likely to be audited by the IRS if you’re black and in the Deep South. American boys.

Seagull invasion in Northwest D.C. © E.A. Crunden

Seagull invasion in Northwest D.C. © E.A. Crunden

Green Scene

Me: A new report finds that it would be cheaper to replace existing coal plants with new renewable alternatives than to keep them running. All the politics behind the Senate’s Green New Deal resolution vote. At least one 2020 contender showed up hard for the Green New Deal on voting day. And while the resolution died dramatically in the Senate, its talking points are growing in popularity. Lawmakers are mounting an offense on offshore drilling as Trump’s Interior nominee comes under fire. Trump is seeking to sidestep environmental review with new Keystone XL permit.

North Carolina has ordered Duke Energy to clean up its coal ash ponds. The top Republican on the House climate committee supports offshore drilling. I worked for a month on this feature, about how cities and states are leading the way and modeling what a Green New Deal could look like. Environmental hazards remain a concern amid historic Midwest flooding. A committee disbanded under Trump has rebranded outside of government and persevered in releasing a report aimed at helping local stakeholders execute climate action. Andrew Wheeler visited Miami — “ground zero” for sea level rise — and managed to avoid mentioning climate change.

Elsewhere: Matt Gaetz’s “Green Real Deal.” FEMA exposed millions of disaster survivors to identity theft and fraud. Experts say Texas needs to brace for climate change. Midwest flooding has sparked a state of emergency for Native communities. Deadly flash floods are plaguing sanctions-ridden Iran. Transitioning a farm is complicated. Post-cyclone, cholera comes to Mozambique. Copenhagen wants to be carbon-neutral.

Canada is warming at twice the rate of everywhere else. They grew up around fossil fuels; now they work in renewables. Louisiana’s Nutria problem. Zimbabwe’s drought could lead to food shortages. What does “local” really mean? A forest fire in South Korea destroyed around 100 homes and killed at least two people. Polar bears keep eating plastic bags. Heaven or high water in Miami.

Around the Globe

Queerphobia lives in Brunei. Renewed fire between Israel and Gaza has sparked massive protests by Palestinians. Brazil’s new president wants to honor the country’s bloody and brutal military dictatorship. Theresa May offered to resign if her Brexit deal gets through, which still didn’t lead to a Brexit deal. Trump suspended aid to Northern Triangle countries. He also threatened to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border and then promptly walked that back.

Elections: A comedian advances in Ukraine’s elections. Turkey’s opposition party is slowly clawing back power. Algeria’s president is resigning following ongoing protests. An anti-corruption campaigner will be Slovakia’s first female president.

Spoken & Written

“But the other selling point of a cross-country train trip is a chance to look behind the American scrim: to learn where the nation makes and stores the hidden parts that run it, to find new places you wish you had been born, to spy on backyards and high school football fields whose possible existence had never occurred to you. Or me. Why not me?” — Caity Weaver


  • We rewatched 9 to 5 recently and I remembered what a glory and wonder it is.

  • I’m going on vacation to Portland (the one in Oregon) next weekend and I’m recommending it in advance. I hope it is chilly and full of lesbians, and also vegan food, and also hiking! And I hope I get to sleep, finally.

Sophomore Slump

Walking backwards

There are people who absolutely love to drown in nostalgia and I do not understand them at all. If it goes three ways, and people live in the past, present, or future, I am definitely the last one and very aggressively and entirely so and have been my entire life. I am always thinking about where I am going to be at some far off date and absolutely nothing prior to that, because considering anything less than the far off future depresses the shit out of me.

Which might be why I’m wildly depressed! My year so far has been a long, backward look at things. It started with music; a Pandora station (the Goo Goo Dolls, sorry) played a few old songs from my childhood and just like that, I went on a spending spree, and now for months my ears have been filled with the low-brow rock music that guided me through 18 years of life in arguably the hottest state in the country. (Loud music, lots of sweat, Texas.) Those sounds have come hand-in-hand with other walks through memory lane — eating burritos again now as a regular coping mechanism, re-watching Battlestar Galactica, re-creating the outfits I wore in New England when it had just occurred to me that lesbians did in fact exist.

For days now, I’ve been thinking about this Andrea Grimes essay, which is a bit about why Beto running for president and not staying in Texas felt like a betrayal, and a lot about Texas and California, and moving back to Texas again, and also about how Texas never feels like enough to some of the people in it and why that’s a hard thing to swallow. I read it two days after I met up with a friend from high school — one I hadn’t seen in a decade — and we drank $13 D.C. cocktails and justified leaving Texas to each other all while swearing our allegiance to the state up and down.

My home state is always weighing on me in some way or another but so is Northampton, in a wildly different way. Eighteen years is a lot longer than four (not even four — I spent a horrible eight months in Geneva somewhere in the middle) but that little Massachusetts town changed everything for me. I finally went back last May after five years away and still haven’t really recovered from that experience. Which is exactly why I dread going back to places — I drown in nostalgia and then I stay that way, waterlogged.

And while I’ve been thinking constantly about Texas and also about Northampton and how I never really processed living in or leaving either, I’ve been depressed in D.C. I don’t hate D.C. at all, it’s actually a great city. But I feel wildly stuck; I’m burned out, I’m tired almost constantly, I don’t feel particularly inspired, and I honestly have no idea what to do to change that, which is hard for me because I love problems with solutions.

That’s partially just a product of the times — is anyone in this country feeling really, truly good right now? (Or the world, for that matter?) This city is exhausted and everything everyone in it is doing to seem fine just seems false to me. But obviously it goes beyond that. I’ve been here for six years and I still don’t feel rooted or attached to it, which is more a commentary on me than on the nation’s capital, but still. I love journalism and I love my beat, but I miss world news and I miss the things I was so passionate about when I was younger. I’ve been thinking a lot about when I lived in Northampton and I was, let’s be clear, completely miserable, but I also felt alive and buzzing constantly and full of new facts and thoughts. And I haven’t felt that way in years and it’s becoming fucking terrible!

What is to be done about that? I’ve got no answers, obviously. But in case it wasn’t clear, I think we could all use some inspiration and some change, and I very much hope spring brings it, in whatever form it might come. I also have a fun new cough that I hope passes soon — must be Aries season.

Blues Buzz

Texas is the last stop. Brooklyn’s early enclaves of queer life. Some people rioted over this piece but I enjoyed the spirit of it: on going home to your “dying” rural hometown. Some scary news for international passengers in U.S airports. Why some students don’t call themselves Southern writers. The deep American roots of white nationalism. Captain Marvel is a very gay movie. Sober queer spaces forever. After the big one — a country without Los Angeles? Cat lady. Irish literature in the time of Brexit. Interesting move. A group of younger Jews contrast their practice with that of their parents. Vegan and Palestinian. A Call Me By Your Name sequel is coming.

The finest Albuquerque has to offer. © E.A. Crunden

The finest Albuquerque has to offer. © E.A. Crunden

Green Scene

Me: Trump’s 2020 budget proposal takes aim at science. Black and Latinx Americans suffer more from the air pollution generated by their white counterparts — something that hasn’t stopped the EPA’s regulation rollback efforts. Oil companies say they support maintaining methane regulations, but they remain part of a powerful lobbying group opposing them. In D.C., young people joined thousands across the world striking for climate action.

As the floods wear on, remember: the Midwest’s trauma is part of everyone’s future. Evangelicals and vulnerable Republicans are among those opposing the rollback of a key EPA regulation. A chemical fire that burned for days in Texas is part of a larger story about power and abuses by the state and national government. (And now the state is suing!)

Elsewhere: How one small town is paving the way for its own Green New Deal. Florida eyes a transition to renewable energy. Costa Rica plans to radically decarbonize. The Pentagon is pushing for lower PFAS standards. Hell and high water. Disaster in Mozambique. Not trusting FEMA’s flood maps. Midwestern flooding is breaking the region’s farmers. How to think about immigration and climate change. More than 100 people died and more than 10,000 were displaced in Indonesia due to flooding. RIP coal, long live coal country. A landmark drilling ruling.

Around the Globe

All 157 people aboard died when an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed en route to Nairobi. Multiple governments have banned the Boeing model behind the crash from their airspace, including the U.S. Israel’s prime minister really rolling in that “some are more equal than others” fun. Algeria’s president will not run for a fifth term, bowing to pressure from protestors, but he has yet to resign. Sudan shortened the country’s state of emergency. Venezuela is plagued by blackouts.

Britain rejected a no-deal Brexit and PM Theresa May requested an extension into June — so, as usual, no one knows what’s going on. Twenty people died in a building collapse in Lagos, Nigeria. A brutal Islamophobic attack in New Zealand left 50 people dead and around as many injured. Gun reform laws are quickly following. President Nursultan Nazarbayev stepped down as leader of Kazakstan.

Spoken & Written

“It is a testament to O’Rourke’s easygoing, people-centric senate campaign — eating tacos in the car, sure, but also saying deeply resonant things about shared values and visions for a more equitable state — that I saw myself in him. Someone who cared about Texas, deeply, and who was committed to un-fucking this place. But then, suddenly, he became a man who turned too quickly into someone else, someone who — again, like me — has believed the lie that Texas is not big enough.” — Andrea Grimes


  • Again, I hate nostalgia, but if you’ve gone more than a decade without hearing “Pinch Me” by the Barenaked Ladies…..rethink your choices, folks.

  • I’ve been eating nothing but homemade breakfast tacos, no regrets.

Your spicy takes are duly noted

Maybe don’t say the thing about the thing

It really hasn’t been a week (weeks? months?) for nuance. I say this in general but also mostly with regards to the epic back-and-forth over antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-blackness, and who gets to say and do what, and who gets to say and claim what, that has been playing out on-and-offline at every second of every hour of the day. There’s so much I have to say about all of it (in the whole of my life there have been few moments when I haven’t had something to say about something, if I’m honest), but I haven’t really said much. I don’t think there is really a space receptive enough to the ins and outs of what I want to say, or how nuanced and complicated I would like to make it. And to open myself up to the potential shitstorm that could arise feels exhausting, even more exhausting than just sitting and watching has been.

I will say I feel alienated by a lot of friends who, to my mind, really should have checked with Jewish friends before they commented, and did not (they never do.) And on the other end, I also feel furious with a lot of people in my community and I wish they were better. Everyone, everything, everywhere, exhausting, all the time.

What else, what else. I’m still in the midst of Big Life Shifts, which I hate — I always want to fast-forward to a point where the shifts have occurred, so I can take stock of the damage or the benefits or whatever the end conclusion was. I wish that about most things; in the middle of a radio hit (my absolute nightmare second only to TV appearances) this week, I just kept thinking that if I could just fast-forward to an hour in the future, everything would be fine and it would be over. And then it was an hour in the future and everything was fine and it was over. Which will happen with everything else, too, but I’m impatient and I wish it would just be the future now.

But it’s March, which is a nice thing! I like March, it’s a good month and I like the energy. Several of my favorite people on earth are March babies (two best friends, an honorary brother, and an honorary niece included) and I’m so happy they were all born and that they’re all here and that their great Pisces-Aries selves are in my life. I’m also eyeing being back in Texas in a few months for a bit and that’s probably the kindest thing I could do for myself, so I’m letting myself be really, truly excited about it, even though as a default I’m suspicious of everything and know everything could go to shit at any moment. Texas is so terrible but I love it so much and the prospect of going home makes me feel so, so much lighter.

And in addition to March and to mayhem and to maybes in Texas, I have filed my tax returns without crying once, and so I am prematurely declaring victory over the first quarter of 2019, sue me.

Blues Buzz

Every line. How the U.S. became a part of Latin America. Rewriting the West. The cost of a U.S. work visa. A queerer and darker Ursula Le Guin. Maine’s poet governor. The incredible Selma Blair. Reading, publishing, and the working class. This essay, on Soviet cooking, immigration, and being othered, is a taste of perfection.

The mistakes of anti-Semitism. Meg Wolitzer is a treasure. Texas is failing foster kids and contributing to a spike in teen pregnancy. There are more queer people in the Southern U.S. than in any other region of the country. The U.S. women’s soccer team has sued over gender discrimination. The queer subtext of My Fair Lady. A reason for the Tar Heel State to strike.

Found my people in Brooklyn. © E.A. Crunden

Found my people in Brooklyn. © E.A. Crunden

Green Scene

Me: I published a small scooplet noting that Nancy Beck, a former chemical industry insider now at the EPA, has stayed close to her former colleagues, even offering to assist one who sought Beck's help in finding her husband a job with the EPA. McConnell’s efforts to divide Democrats on the Green New Deal have hit a stumbling block. In flood-prone areas, buyouts are becoming more common and popular, but they could be more strategic and environmentally-savvy: a new study, focused on Houston, talks about how. The Republicans headed to the House climate change committee signal shifting times for the party.

Not a single Pacific or Atlantic coastal state wants offshore drilling. The Trump administration’s ongoing efforts targeting environmental regulations will increase CO2 emissions by more than 200 million tons annually, according to a new report. Communities impacted by PFAS contamination say the Trump administration isn’t doing enough to help them.

Elsewhere: Climate change: also hurting clouds! The shells of wild sea butterflies are already dissolving. How many regulations would it take to make the Green New Deal happen? Plastics might be the new coal in Appalachia. The Indus: a river of growing disasters. The Texas solar company reviled by Puerto Ricans. The cost of clean air in Bangkok. Jellyfish could be the solution to microplastic pollution. Fighting climate gentrification with a radical community garden.

At least 23 people died in Alabama following a devastating tornado. The vulnerability of home, from California to Calcutta. Why oil giants like carbon taxes. In the South, environmental racism meets dedicated social justice.

Around the Globe

Thousands of migrant children say they have been sexually assaulted in U.S. custody. Escalating tensions between India and Pakistan cooled as Pakistan de-escalated and released a captured Indian pilot last week, but things aren’t great. Nigeria’s president secured a second term. Second Brexit referendum? Venezuela deported a Univision crew after an unflattering interview. Tens of thousands of Algerian students mass-protested President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's plans to run for another term. Cardinal George Pell was taken into custody over multiple accounts of sexual assault.

Argentina’s top rabbi was attacked in his home following anti-Semitic vandalism in Argentina. Also in the country, rape survivors are being denied access to abortion. Iran’s famed foreign minister resigned on Instagram…only to have his resignation rejected. Talks between the U.S. and North Korea collapsed quickly and it appears the latter might be hard at work on a missile site. Drama in Canada as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces growing pushback and scandal. In DRC, the battle to stop Ebola is meeting a hurdle.

Spoken & Written

“I was the one who ate mashed potatoes and frankfurters for breakfast. Who ate a sandwich for breakfast. Strange? But Americans ate cereal for dinner. Americans ate cereal, period, that oddment. They had a whole thing called “breakfast for dinner.” And the only reason they were right and I was wrong was that it was their country.” — Boris Fishman


  • As a personal rule I’ve avoided things like TV appearances and radio hits, because they give me anxiety. But I went on the radio this week (with the excellent Alex Kaufman of HuffPost) and it was pretty okay! Sometimes say yes to the scary things, if you are so inclined.

  • We like intensive weekend baking projects in this house and we finally tried our hand at khachapuri last week; while it wasn’t as amazing as I’m sure it is on the streets of Tbilisi, we were still pretty happy with it and honestly, you might be too.

What if we slept more

At the bone

Definitely wouldn’t say I’m someone prone to winter depression (I’m prone to perpetual depression, winter is no different, and at least it’s not hot outside) but I do think I’m feeling down lately. Some of that is just par for the course — a lot of things are shifting right now, at work, in my friendships, and in my life, and I’m not enjoying it and I never do but that doesn’t really make it dramatic or bad. But some of that is also more legitimate, I think. I feel a lot like there is always a bar to be met and once I get to that point, the bar moves. It’s frustrating, it’s tiring, and it means I come home from work or from a conversation with friends (or from anything, really) feeling worn out and worn down and not really very good at anything.

That’s not true, obviously. I’m as good at people as the next person (which is to say, middling, but what can you do) and I work very hard and I am not half-bad at my job. But it’s hard not to feel terrible at everything, especially when everyone else around you is miserable (people really hate winter! their hate is tiring!) and there’s just so much happening, All. Of. The. Time., and everyone is looking at you as if to ask why you couldn’t or didn’t do more.


Money’s on my mind a lot (how I never have enough of it) and also home and how much I miss it. The past few years I’ve gone back to Texas more often (which is to say, not waiting five years at a time) and I think if anything it’s just making homesickness worse. I went to New York recently and the entire time I felt overwhelmed because everything was so tall and big and everyone was in black and moving quickly and I just remembered, yet again, what a Southerner I am despite nearly three decades running of a Northern personality, as everyone used to tell me in high school.

So that’s been February, really — bursts of cold and imposter syndrome and financial insecurity and homesickness. Great time! At work I’m almost always frantically emailing people or running to find the one quiet part of the newsroom to take a call; at home I’m curled up in a ball wishing my mattress didn’t hurt my back and that I could learn how to sleep properly and not foggily wake up at 6 a.m. every day without any hope of dozing off again for another hour, weekend or no. That’s all I think a lot of us would really like right around now, to sleep. And who knows when we will, but — this weekend we made a lot of things from scratch (egg noodles! bubble tea!) and as always I’m glad for things made carefully and over time, the things that are exhausting but in the good way.

Blues Buzz

Can you fail at sisterhood? The Little House on the Prairie was built on colonized land. Why are Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody Oscar contenders? What The Matrix can teach us about gender. The challenge of going on a book tour as a non-binary writer. A radical bookstore in southern Appalachia. Going to private college when you are poor and from a rural area. The good immigrant. Russian Doll is about so many things, including caring for your neighbors. It is also the work of queer women! Wtf is TikTok. To live here, you have to fight. Mississippians are on the frontline of the battle for abortion rights. A history of the American public library.

New Mexico. © E.A. Crunden

New Mexico. © E.A. Crunden

Green Scene

Me: “Cow farts” and “radical socialism”: how opponents are attacking the Green New Deal. The coal company linked to the plant Trump wants to save has deep ties to Andrew Wheeler. In Texas, it’s butterflies vs. the border wall — tension that has heightened with the national emergency. The EPA is touting its PFAS action plan but impacted communities say it’s nowhere near enough.

While national parks suffered during the shutdown, the Interior Department was hard at work accepting oil and gas permit applications. Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff has a new life opposing the Green New Deal. One coal company’s bankruptcy is heightening pressure on Green New Deal backers to center a “just transition.” I explained (rapidly and not exhaustively) the Green New Deal in video form! Trump’s pick for U.N. ambassador has deep ties to the coal industry. Not the best look for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Elsewhere: A second chance for coral reefs? People may love local food but farmers are disappearing. The world’s insects are in dramatic decline. Brazil’s very fun new environment minister really doesn’t care about land defenders. Orca whales are dying in ice. POLAR BEAR MANIA. A California effort to help immigrant cooks is, surprise, mostly helping tech giants.

Portland’s racist history haunts its earthquake preparedness. Another Mexican environmental activist has been murdered. The ethics of showing violence in nature are complex — but you should probably see what is happening to seabirds. Stripped-down water quality standards in West Virginia.

Around the Globe

If you want a sneak-peak at a story that deeply exhausted me, please enjoy the debacle around Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Twitter comments and the only thing I read about it that I liked. Eastern European governments under fire for eroding human rights get a boost from the U.S. The head of a news site critical of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was detained by the government. Ireland will reject reimposed border controls along the Irish-Northern Irish border in the case of a no-deal Brexit. An attack in northwest Nigeria killed around 130 people. Alarming trends in Israel. Kenya postpones ruling on a colonial era anti-LGBTQ law.

Spanish budget drama leads to snap national elections in April. Couples sue in Japan for marriage equality rights. Almost 30 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard died after a suicide bombing. Indian-occupied Kashmir saw its deadliest attack on security forces in years. Amazon has canceled plans to house a headquarters in New York City following massive protest and everyone is calm about it. ACLU and others are suing over the Trump administration’s “remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers. Trump declared a national emergency and everyone is suing. Israel v. Poland: Holocaust edition, round 300. An exodus from Britain’s Labour Party over Brexit and anti-Semitism (and Conservatives aren’t doing that much better.) A Coast Guard official was arrested in D.C. over plans to carry out a massive militant attack.

Spoken & Written

“This message is more leftist than liberal: we must care for one another, but that means there is work to be done and there are reparations to be paid, not merely feelings to be resolved.” — Natalie Adler on Russian Doll


  • My partner in crime made egg noodles from scratch, I made a pale imitation of dan dan sauce, and it was pretty great.

  • On a whim I bought Stacie Cassarino’s Zero at the Bone, a book of harsh poetry I devoured in under an hour. February put me in a poetry mood and it feels like the right thing for the month and the time.

Green dreams

Only one thing at a time

This past week was such an unendingly long week, to the point where I can’t even envision next week or any week after that. The nature of being on a beat is that occasionally it blows up and everything happens all at once, which it did this week — for climate reporters there was no rest between Monday and Friday and even now I’m tired thinking about next week.

That’s on top of everything else; work is life and life is work but the personal continues outside of the professional, which I’ve noticed some people forget in D.C., a city that revolves around work. I’ve struggled for years to explain to many friends that if I don’t always have time for them outside of the internet or our 8-to-5 interactions, it isn’t because I don’t care about them: I’m just really and truly tired and I’m not an extrovert, for all that I’m opinionated and vocal. If I spoke to you a bunch over Twitter DM I gave you my time and honestly, that’s all I had to give. Taking time for myself (at a coffee shop, in my kitchen, with my cat) always feels like a thing I’m sneaking, like I should be answering messages instead, running to see people, taking in their worries and needs and lives. But people are so exhausting and journalism is people every day, and that’s a lot in a week, a month, a year — you see?

Anyways, this week was non-stop news and then non-stop people, which carries on with the grand themes of 2019 so far. I said I would be more social this year and I have been and it’s absolutely exhausting. That sounds like a privileged complaint and maybe it is! But I do think we should all think more about why we demand so much face-to-face time from people (texts, emails, Twitter, Instagram — that’s still time!) and why not wanting to always see people is seen as so inherently negative. In a culture that glorifies introversion (and to be clear, whether fair or unfair, I find social ineptness as frustrating as non-stop interaction) it always baffles me how much we expect from the people around us.

People — avoiding people, seeing people, talking to people, interviewing people, managing people — returned to my mind this weekend after my brain finally cleared space for anything not-climate related. That’s also been hard to adjust to; the entire purpose of this newsletter at one point was to keep tabs on a wide range of things, because I’m interested in a wide range of things. Now it’s dominated by what I cover, partially because I only write about one thing now and partially because only writing about one thing means mostly focusing on only one thing. This week Virginia was descending into chaos, shutdown talks faltered, a lot was happening in Pakistan, Brexit was nowhere closer to being solved, and on and on, but I barely had the energy to think about it. The newsletters I devoured once on topics spanning from the U.S. criminal justice system to politics in China now go mostly skimmed or unread; I’m late to news on virtually everything that doesn’t directly touch what I’m paid to know about.

What does that mean, for me? Not sure! I’m depressed about it, definitely. I’m excited to have more fluency in one thing (as opposed to intermediate familiarity with many things) but it’s been hard to lose touch with so many other things. I can tell you a lot about the Green New Deal resolution, but I’m behind on what’s going on in the Texas legislature, something that pains me. And that knowledge is slipping away while my work life and my personal life just grow busier and busier — there’s no time at work to know about the world and there’s no time outside of work.

And that leaves things nowhere resolvable, really. February is such a strange month and I don’t know what to do with it at all; it’s a month where you blink and you miss it, a short little guy running past you. And I’ll still be busy and behind in March and there will still be people and climate news and unread newsletters, but that hasn’t really stopped me from assigning February some of the blame for my funk, like being the shortest month is a personal failing. But! A lot of my favorite people were born in February and I get to see some of them soon. There’s a higher chance of snow, and I love snow, and it’s also not January, which just feels so aggressive as a month. So I’m grateful for that — for well-loved February children and for the perks of northern climates and also for time passing, and with it all things healing as best as they can.

Blues Buzz

The past and dismal future of LGBTQ+ media (and why you should 100% pay a few dollars if you can to Autostraddle). 60 hours and 50 abortions: one doctor treks to Texas from California to help. Independent journalists are going deeper in America’s most under-covered regions. On gender minorities at historically women’s colleges. Immigration in America’s ski towns. A gender study. Megan Rapinoe on equal pay for equal play, and also on speaking out about racism. Marlon James on writing “Black Leopard, Red Wolf”. You don’t always transition once. Catte vs. Vance. Women are not treated equally in the outdoor industry.

Where is the outrage for Black trans women? An authentically Jewish interaction in Kabul, remembered. What white, Western audiences don’t get about Marie Kondo. SIREN: THE L WORD REBOOT IS HAPPENING. On confusing gender feelings. Houston finally has a queer girl guide! Gay country. Being queer and from the South. Farming: a balm for body image. A unified theory of the doughnut. Guess who’s coming to dinner. 33 books with great lesbian sex scenes. The gay history of America’s classic children’s books. Queering the Black press.

D.C. © E.A. Crunden

D.C. © E.A. Crunden

Green Scene

Me: There are still many lawmakers who question or deny climate science — but overall, they’re on the decline. Extreme weather events are fueling global “food shocks,” which is very, very bad. The Interior Department’s proposed FOIA rules generated mass-opposition from environmental groups. Toxin-impacted communities in states like Louisiana and North Carolina saw a lapse in EPA assistance during the shutdown; a second one could spell disaster.

Look to the Democrats’ State of the Union guests for an idea of their policy goals. David Bernhardt vs. House Democrats. Puerto Rico’s utility is eyeing a big shift to solar power after Maria. The night of the State of the Union, I met with lawmakers and their carefully-chosen guests and we talked climate change. An onslaught of climate-linked hearings came the next day. The Green New Deal has a path forward — through infrastructure legislation. And the phenomenon is already a conservative target.

Elsewhere: Massachusetts unveils a dramatic clean energy proposal. PG&E formally declares bankruptcy following California wildfires. Big Tech is in hot water over climate denial. It may take Joshua Tree 300 years to recover from the shutdown. Out-of-work coal miners are turning to bee keeping. The Gulf of Maine is warming dramatically. Finding the sweet spot for a non-profit grocery store. What is a wetland? The Midwest’s winter weather this month. The polar vortex is a social justice issue. Racial disparity in solar paneling, a very real thing!

Greening Nashville. Interior has delayed the public comment period on ANWR drilling by a month. All hail the elephant seals. Long after the storm: mold and mental health issues. Black Virginians see the connection between a governor who has worn blackface and a history of ignoring environmental racism. In Australia, floods and fires (and some creature havoc.) Octopus farming: bad. The great dolphin dilemma.

Around the Globe

We have 2020 campaigns kicking off. The U.S. is going after Huawei Technologies. Cameroon’s opposition leader was arrested. The UK opposes a Brexit deal and a no-deal Brexit, so everything is as it was. Zimbabwe has been rocked by unrest. Lebanon formed a government. A stand-off in Venezuela. France moves to ban masks at protests. Finland’s basic universal income results.

Pakistan upheld the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy. The country also critiqued the reach of the military and intelligence agencies. Palestine’s prime minister resigned. Things aren’t going great in Afghanistan as the government eyes peace talks with the Taliban. The U.S. imposed visa restrictions on Ghana. Pope Francis visited the Arabian Peninsula. Egypt eyes expanding Sisi’s time in office. France and Italy are in the midst of an escalating spat over the Yellow Vest protests. “Death to American rulers.” So, Jeff Bezos and the National Enquirer.

Spoken & Written

“The inevitable room, greasy with the inevitable grime, is as standard as the furnishings of a chain hotel. The man growls clipped replies that gesture at his depth. Male self-importance is as generic as any Marriott.” — Becca Rothfeld


The Perfect Nanny, a book that deeply jarred me. | Making vada pav from scratch.

You do not have to be good

Wild and precious

Mary Oliver died last week and I haven’t really moved on at all. Deaths of famous people or people who are well known are strange, as is public mourning, and sometimes I partake and sometimes I don’t. But I took this one hard. Oliver is known pretty widely as a nature poet, a writer of gentle things, and a constant source of inspiration for the spiritual, the effusive, and the online. I never learned her in any of those contexts because of course I found her at Smith, the same place where I found my sexuality and my moral compass and myself. At some point there, in aggressively, rudely beautiful Northampton, someone (probably a lesbian) introduced me to ‘Wild Geese’ and then a friend (now my closest friend from college) gave me a print of that same poem and later, on the morning when I took a one-way bus to D.C., a friend I was losing ran out of her house on campus, crying and in pajamas with hair going haywire, and gave me a copy of Oliver’s poetry. And then I left.

Not to be melodramatic, but: my entire life I’ve been the odd one out, in so many different ways — a visibly religious Jew in central Texas, the person in the intensive high school program who didn’t have money, the one at college who didn’t have biological family a phone call away, the private liberal arts graduate who worked seven days a week in a coffee shop without support from home, a D.C. journalist from the South without a storied history of internships, the only person who looks like me in any given space. And on and on! I feel like I’ve shaped my life around this and I feel like I’m attached to it now, even if it has been thoroughly alienating at (most) times. I thought about this the day that Oliver passed mostly because I kept seeing tributes from dykes online, and it made me miss Smith, and it made me remember that Smith was a place where I felt alienated and different but didn’t look different, and how that meant something to me, even if it was only a small thing.

I really miss dykes! I miss visibly queer people and people who look like me and people who do not conform their bodies to the patriarchy and people who don’t mind being at war with the world when the world is wrong. I miss being comfortable and accepted and fitting in, even if only superficially.

People who aren’t in vulnerable communities tend to rebel when those communities rise around them to make their presence known, and I’ve felt this so often, the moment where someone’s face just says so clearly, Why are you being the thing so much right now, the thing that is making me know I am not the thing. (Once, I was upstairs in a small office building in Switzerland and the conversation downstairs drifted up just as someone was mimicking my voice and saying: “I’m gay, didn’t you know, I’m gay, I’m gay!”) I think a lot about that study, the gist of which was something like: if you have a room full of white people, and you put more than a very small number of people of color in it, the white people will say the room is evenly divided. Anyways.

That’s all to say: I’m devastated that an iconic lesbian poet died, a poet I liked so much I had her words tattooed, something I can say of only two writers, period. I’m devastated she died and I’m annoyed (I’m enraged) that every single tribute to her didn’t scream that she was a dyke. I’m sad that everyone who felt the same way as me about her death was so far away from me, and I’m sad that I spent the day she died surrounded not only by straight people but by straight people who do not understand queerness at all and do not think queerly or live queerly. I think a lot of us have to live this way, surrounded by people who do not understand a vital part of us, and I think that’s gut-wrenching.

Also gut-wrenching is the collapse of journalism, if it can be called that. I spent the last two days watching friends and personal heroes and much-loved presences lose their jobs at random in a brutal bloodbath we just keep re-living, over and over. It’s painful and exhausting to watch good, hard-working, painfully talented people lose their jobs, at the mercy of a world that doesn’t appreciate or understand what we do and why do it and why what we do means something for everyone. I’ve heard several people say they’re thinking of going to law school, and more and more that’s the refrain: when I lose my job, what is my next plan, my next dream, my next impossible task? I don’t want to be anything but a journalist and I have no plan, which is very fun for me, a person who always needs a plan.

In the meantime, between now and when I will need a plan, I’ve spent January trying to be a better reporter and a person who thinks more about their time. This newsletter is now twice a month instead of weekly, and that’s partially because I want to be thoughtful about the things I create and I want to be prouder of them and put more time into them. I’m trying to master a 101-page manual on how to drive, I spend a lot of time watching my cat explore his new world, and I am going out more to meet friends when I would rather be alone. My favorite Oliver line is “you do not have to be good,” which I have needed a lot at different points in my life, but everyone else really loves her iconic reminder about seizing your “one wild and precious life,” which is ready-made for Pinterest but also a genuinely hot life tip. Anyways, I am trying to make the most of this year so I can be better at making the most of this life and I am at the gym more often and that too is nice, as are most things that make you feel, even if for only a moment, slightly more in control.

Blues Buzz

Moliver content: You do not have to be good. Throwback: Mary and Molly. The overlooked eroticism of Moliver and the lesbian tribute she deserves.

Apart from that: The might-have-been. Female ranchers are reclaiming the West. On being a woman and trying not to be assaulted. The idea of place, the idea of domination. What we lose when we lose queer sex scenes. In the dream house. Black millennials in search of the New South. “Feminism.” Angels make love. Colonialism comes home to roost for Britain. The pansexual Iraqi-Syrian who refuses to explain herself. Ah, The L Word and The Chart. Towards a radical Tu B’shvat. Building masculinity from pieces of boys. Ellen Page isn’t afraid.


Green Scene

Me: Private citizens stepped up to care for national parks during the shutdown. Offshore drilling was prioritized during the shutdown, despite questions over safety and legality. Oil and wind reign in Texas, but coal ash pollution is a staggering problem. Michigan’s new attorney general is making good on climate action, beginning by withdrawing from four anti-EPA lawsuits. Probing Interior Department actions during the shutdown is shaping up to be the first major test of Democratic power.

Elsewhere: The Anthropocene is not the same as climate change. Environmentalists are wary of India’s plan to fight its notorious air pollution. The Green New Deal and the outdoors. The shutdown hit climate science. China’s first lunar leaf sadly died. Loons are getting squeezed by wind farms. How do you save an endangered species in a war zone? Sea turtles poisoned by red tide are getting a new treatment. At least one being enjoyed the shutdown.

One small town is battling radioactive fracking waste. Greenland’s ice is melting very, very fast. Plants will absorb fewer carbon emissions as the world warms. The EPA is lapsing on holding polluters accountable. What happens to fish after a wildfire? Poor Southerners are joining global climate migrants. The shutdown stopped critical testing in North Carolina. Right whale calf! Hundreds of people are missing following a dam collapse in Brazil. Japan resumes commercial whaling.

Around the Globe

The mayor of the Polish city of Gdansk, known for his progressive views, was murdered and 10 people were detained over hate speech in the country. U.S. troops will likely remain at Mexico’s border until September. U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has been racist for years, is now in trouble for his racism. Greece v. Macedonia. An attack on a hotel in Nairobi was claimed by the militant group Al-Shabab. A new Central American caravan heads north. Uganda’s new restrictions on artists. Thailand’s military junta is cracking down on social media in advance of elections. A U.S. anchor for Iranian television was detained and allegedly mistreated in U.S. custody.

Theresa May survived another no-confidence vote, but Brexit still isn’t solved at all. Greece’s prime minister survived his own no-confidence vote. Zimbabwe has been cracking down hard on protestors. A bomb killed at least 20 people in Colombia. An Israeli teenager was charged with manslaughter in the stoning of a Palestinian’s car. USDA’s broadband initiative has a problem. Mass-protests are playing out in Venezuela, as the opposition attempts to oust President Nicolás Maduro, complicated by the Trump administration. Around 100 people have died in Mexico after a gasoline pipeline explosion. Brazil’s first openly gay congressman is leaving his position and the country following mounting threats.

Spoken & Written

“Oliver’s eroticism is more visible to the queer reader, who knows that queerness isn’t just about queer sex: it is a fundamentally individual way of looking at the world. To queer is to break down—to destroy—the structures that would limit or bar or imprison us, and to rethink or even replace them.” — Jeanna Kadlec

And we’re off

Burned out, the new year kind

The new year is here and moving rapidly along, so quickly that I spent one day this past week with my head resting against a wall, four minutes from nodding off, for at least five hours. A lot is changing, really fast. Last year felt like a series of deferred goals and plans, everything pushed further and further down the road until it toppled over the edge and into the new year, and now that new year is here and somehow things are happening. Maybe most decisively, we got a cat, and that’s been a change (a living thing!!!) and I’m still adjusting to what that means for how we operate in our home and in our lives. He’s great and he’s new and he’s different.

At work there are other changes as our newsroom adjusts and takes on new ambitions and steps up its game. My team is working more than ever, which is one of those things that is objectively great, albeit with the heavy byproducts of exhaustion, the fear of change, and my own stubbornness. I’m glad to be pushed and stretched and improved, but I also resent the growth. That will stop, eventually, but for now, in all the fire and frenzy of January, I’ve been giving into exhaustion and temper tantrums. Apologies to all.

What else, what else? I watched the internet have a meltdown over a viral essay on millennial burnout this past week, and that (the meltdown) was an exercise in patience, empathy, and irritation. Interestingly, I liked the essay, which included all the caveats (the author is white, straight, grew up financially comfortable, etc), not because I related to every part of it, but because it helped me relate more to my friends (who are not very white but are mostly straight and almost universally come from affluent backgrounds). The people I love are wildly different from me and one of the few points of similarity is how we’re all exhausted. It was nice to see that articulated! But then everyone online was very angry, for reasons I hadn’t even thought to tease out because I took them for granted — of course everything is worse and different if you’re a person of color, if you’re an immigrant, if you’re sick, if you’re poor. Of course.

I felt annoyed all week, both that everyone was complaining and that I hadn’t thought to. I could’ve shared the article and wailed that it didn’t include me, that it didn’t give a name or a space to other, more nuanced forms of burnout. I could’ve! I just didn’t because I was so relieved to finally have a point of comparison and because I knew full well that I’m burned out despite the nice things I’ve had and would be even without the struggles I’ve had, and that my friends are burned out despite their privileges and despite their struggles (which are very different from mine and hurt them in ways I can’t even begin to understand). And now it’s been a week, the article’s author (a writer I like and respect) has spent days elevating other perspectives on burnout, and I’ve realized that most of the world is not on Twitter and has no idea this ever happened. I live in a bubble!

That all dominated my week, when I had planned to do more productive things — fix up the bike my friend gave me, study so I can have a driver’s license before I’m 30, finally overhaul this newsletter, etc. None of those things happened! But I do plan to study for the license this weekend and, re: this newsletter, I’m slowly changing things up. It’s five years old now and it’s changed dramatically along with me. Once this was devoted to world news and events, which I thought would come in lock-step with my life. Now, I’m a climate reporter and I struggle to keep up with what’s happening in South Asia and Eastern Europe, regions that used to dominate my daily reading.

That depresses me; I love world news and I loved writing and editing world news. It will still have a place in my life and in this newsletter. But what I do is changing and I want to honor that, to give space to the new things I learn about every week, and the fascinating, weird beat that is all things climate and environment. I also want to write more creatively; every since my graduate program ended I’ve been left without a lot of creative opportunities, outside of the limited openings journalism allows. All of which is to say, this little creation I’ve had going for half a decade is still going, just going differently! As always I’ll keep changing it up to see what works. And I hope you’ll all be around for that, whatever that is.

Columbia Heights, D.C. © E.A. Crunden

Columbia Heights, D.C. © E.A. Crunden

Blues Buzz

48 books by women and non-binary writers of color. I live for Laura Dern. Appalachian whiteness: a history that never existed. How millennials became the burn-out generation and a deeply thoughtful response to how being burned-out is different for different (read: more vulnerable) people. The lesbian South. Is San Antonio America’s future? On AOC: the exception to the rulers. What it felt like when “Cat Person” went viral (and how strange it was for its queer author.) Han Kang! The wonder of the Arkansas Ozarks.

Green Scene

Me: The shutdown is taking a toll on national parks and advocates plan to FOIA later to assess the damage — but there’s a problem. EPA employees are also suffering during the shutdown, along with the communities they work to protect. Brazil’s new far-right president is making bold pro-industry moves that threaten the Amazon (and global climate efforts).

All non-Gulf coastal states now oppose offshore drilling. And the shutdown seems to be stalling Trump’s own offshore drilling ambitions. West Coast governors asked Trump for wildfire aid; Trump responded by threatening to revoke California’s FEMA aid. Florida’s sweeping new water policies come peppered with caveats.

Elsewhere: If we want to make the green scene the space scene, NASA’s doing some cool shit (so is China, on the far side of the moon). A clean energy revolution rises in the Midwest….thanks to utilities. A multi-state offshore wind collaborative on the East Coast? The shutdown: not great for the planet! Rural towns in the Texas Panhandle boom thanks to immigrants working in agriculture.

Fur seals face a wormier world. Six texts by women on climate change. Solar panel discrimination in Miami? For Georgia farmers, 2018 was gut-wrenching. Florida’s conservative Panhandle hates the shutdown. Texas could run mostly on renewables, per a new report. South Carolina also not into offshore drilling. For one part of the ocean, climate change means getting cooler. The ocean is warming way faster than we thought. Full steam ahead for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline amid plenty of controversy surrounding the Democratic governors who approved it.

Around the Globe

Far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro has assumed power in Brazil, immediately targeting LGBTQ, indigenous, and other vulnerable Brazilians, along with the environment. Netflix capitulated to Saudi Arabia and took down a Patriot Act episode critical of the regime. Congo faced an election delay, one that endured into this week with Felix Tshisekedi emerging as victor. Sudan is blocking social media in an attempt to curb protests against Omar al-Bashir, who has said he will not resign. Yemen’s tragedy is far from over.

Malaysia’s smoking ban isn’t going over well. The stock market shuddered along with China. A no-deal Brexit would be a nightmare for Northern Ireland. It’s the U.S. vs. Venezuela at the WTO. Another term for Venezuela’s Maduro. Trump may declare a national emergency to build a border wall, while the U.S. government concludes its third week of what is now the longest U.S. shutdown in history. Withdrawal from Syria? Junk food has a hold on China’s health officials. Garment workers in Bangladesh are still demanding their rights.

Spoken & Written

“That realization recast my recent struggles: Why can’t I get this mundane stuff done? Because I’m burned out. Why am I burned out? Because I’ve internalized the idea that I should be working all the time. Why have I internalized that idea? Because everything and everyone in my life has reinforced it — explicitly and implicitly — since I was young.” — Anne Helen Peterson


  • My great-grandmother had a persimmon tree in Texas and I grew up hearing a lot about it. The market on our D.C. street offered persimmons this week, so I bought some and I’m going to be ambitious with them — a cake? Scones?

  • I’ve spent about 15 years trying to re-configure my relationship with Judaism; I’m pretty religious but not always committed to weekly rituals, for a lot of reasons. Still, I went to a Shabbos dinner this weekend and the prayers came back to me quickly, even after a long break. It feels nice to reconnect with something that has had relevance throughout your life, even with ups and downs, and I hope everyone has that thing and finds joy in reviving it, whatever it may be.

Lol, we survived for now (?)

Non-Jewish New Year

It’s here, it’s here, it’s the end. This year was so exhausting and so much of the exhausting part came towards the latter half, which just feels unfair? I’m a list maker and number checker and if I’m behind on something I leave myself time to catch up, but this year was swallowed, by sudden and unending family visa problems, by midterm elections, by dramatic changes at my newsroom, by unused vacation time, by warfare with loved ones (over everything from significant political differences to tacos to newsroom clashes). Everything went to shit, a bit! And now the end of the year is at hand and guess who does not have a driver’s license, a cat, or any level of fluency in a desired language, correct, it is me.

That list of failings aside, it was a strangely good year (for me) in some ways. I began 2018 feeling stuck at work and in an argument over the framing of a story (literally, this is how I spent January 2, 2018, in a fight). A few months later I migrated to our climate team, and that move has been…pretty great, actually. It’s changed and challenged me and I spent a lot of the last part of this year feeling subpar and mediocre and talentless, but I also think I’ve undeniably become a better writer and a more aware person and I’m wildly grateful to the people (women, they’re all women, very hard-working women) who have invested so much time in me and in pushing me and in making me better.

And so many things happened this year because of that pushing, because of that making. I reported from Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas (!), and Michigan. My ledes go unburied. I’ve written long and short and interviewed and slammed through my anxiety to make something of the things happening around me and I’m very proud! Which is something, really, and it’s a nice something.

For next year, the bar is set low in a lot of ways — there’s a lot happening in this country and if you’re someone who isn’t happy about it, there is approximately 1% chance that next year won’t prove absolutely gloomy at some point, in some way. I can’t change that and I am a reporter and this is my life and reality, so I’m realistic about that. In my personal life I also want to be realistic; everyone in it is getting older and more tired and more drained. That’s just what happens to bodies and relationships and lives — they get a bit stretched out. Still, I would like to write more (creatively; I have a nice masters degree quietly rotting despite the thousands of dollars that I did not have that I paid for it) and yes, get the cat, and yes, get the driver’s license, and also finally answer the pleas from the Spanish app I have which stopped pleading with me to practice many, many months ago.

Maybe it happens and I hope it all does. I also hope I don’t drop the ball on running regularly and that I don’t fly off the handle at friends when I feel righteously enraged and also that I am better about pushing myself and working through anxiety and fear and exhaustion. Who knows, not me, I do not know what will happen! Maybe I will also finally improve this 5-years-running newsletter and figure out what I want with it, dream big. But either way I hope your year is good and bright and that things are soft and tender when you need them to be and that you are kind to the world around you even if it is not always the kindest to you.

El Paso, Texas. © E.A. Crunden

El Paso, Texas. © E.A. Crunden

2018, what a year

I wrote a lot this year — more than 100 pieces, which is the reality of life at a small, online publication where I spent the first 4 months of 2018 on a daily news cycle team driven by aggregation. But I’m proud of a lot of the original climate and green scene work I did, as well as immigration pieces and pieces with a focus on the South and Appalachia (my life, my heart). It was a ride and these were the highlights:

A year of pipelines! I talked to the doctors who struggled to access pipeline protestors in Virginia. Some of those same protestors later faced fines for protesting on their own land. The Forest Service was later slammed with a lawsuit relating to the doctors’ lack of access. Those protests against pipelines on the East Coast have been marked by gains and losses. Meanwhile, the Bayou Bridge pipeline in Louisiana remains an ongoing source of controversy.

A year of Scott Pruitt! It would take forever to list every Pruitt incident I covered, but I do remember that time in April when “at least 10 ethics investigations” seemed like a lot (we were so young and naive then.) This man also resigned while I was on a mountain in Acadia National Park and it burns me TO THIS DAY.

A year of natural disasters! Wildfires in Colorado left undocumented immigrants facing hard choices. Incarcerated people fought fires in California, at great personal risk, while farmworkers stayed at work in the fields. Immigrant communities in North Carolina struggled to find shelter as Hurricane Florence drew near.

In Puerto Rico, locals told me the island’s rocky recovery has distracted from its pre-existing problems. But the island’s most vulnerable communities have worked to survive following Maria. And I profiled the Puerto Rican activists pushing the island towards renewables, an effort decades in the making.

A lot of Texas: The oil boom has environmental advocates grappling with hard choices. The 2020 citizenship Census question is spelling trouble in Texas and protests against Trump’s immigration policies have taken on a special fervor. Trump’s call for troops on the U.S.-Mexico border went over poorly with border communities and they told me about it. Record-breaking heat overwhelmed the state’s electrical grid. The border wall is devastating for Texas parks and wildlife. The most vulnerable Texans have not recovered from Hurricane Harvey. So much Beto! (And his fight with Ted Cruz — I was in Austin for their first debate.)

…Plus, whatever people are saying now, the man did highlight climate issues. (And helped change the state-wide and national fight for environmental protection.) I also closely followed Joseph Kopser’s science-laden campaign and his young supporters. And I wrote about the most controversial ballot proposal I’ve ever covered, coincidentally in my hometown.

And Florida: I have learned so much about red tide. I also went to the state and covered how farmworkers are talking about climate change (something I wrote about a lot); the toll climate gentrification is taking on Miami; how climate activists are gearing up for a fight; and how the primaries definitely didn’t change the red tide emphasis in the general election. And sure enough, climate issues reigned on the campaign trail. (+ Even after the state moved on from the primaries, climate gentrification reared its head again.)

Some Michigan, some more midterms: The state’s Democratic primary was at times shaped by environmental issues. Environmental justice champions emerged there, as they did around the country. I asked Rashida Tlaib about her green vision for Michigan. From Flint, I wrote about the resilience of its residents. And I covered local efforts towards a “green wave” in the state. More broadly, green groups in the state threw their support behind voting rights and redistricting campaigns. Outside of Michigan, I covered Washington’s ambitious carbon tax proposal, which ultimately failed (but carbon pricing is still going to be big in 2019.)

And more! The National Climate Assessment had bad news for everyone. Developing countries are suffering while polluters like the U.S. fail to step up. Lawmakers pushed back on FEMA over climate change. Connecticut passed a sweeping bill targeting sea level rise. A bipartisan consensus opposing offshore drilling has emerged in coastal states. Immigrant detainees are being held at EPA Superfund sites (and both immigration and environmental advocates aren’t happy). The EPA “secret science” proposal remains among its most controversial. Low-income communities and the environment both suffer from SNAP crises. With my dear Amanda Michelle Gomez, I wrote about Trump’s plan to label immigrants a “public charge.” And I documented who’s benefitting from Trump’s WOTUS attack: golf course owners, farmers, and property developers.

More! Students of color in Milwaukee want to talk about the school-to-prison pipeline. I covered the Poor People’s Campaign kickoff, as well as its focus on ecological devastation. The EPA has slowly removed its website references to climate change. Trump’s brutal crackdown on highly-skilled visa recipients has gone largely uncovered by the media. Islamophobia is still rampant in the U.S. Brazil panicked over Bolsonaro and is now panicking some more as the country abandons its climate leadership. That’s a global reality, though, as we saw in Katowice.

That’s that. Here’s what to watch in 2019 when the Trump administration will go to war with Democrats over the environment. Bound to be a calm, fun time! Especially given our ongoing shutdown, which is terrible for people and also for national parks and public spaces. Very chill!


Shut-in and shutdown

This is a massively reduced newsletter, largely because of the chaos that is this time of year — vacations, Christians celebrating and closing everything, slowly pulling together all of the things people need in the new year, etc, etc. For me that means running back to D.C. from beautiful New Mexico and struggling to clean my house in advance of our best friend coming into town. It also means the government is irregularly shut down — shut down vs. shutdown and when to use which has been a favorite game of mine for the past few days — and that my newsroom is regularly shut down and that my favorite cafe down the street will be shut down on the 25th and my yearly panic of where to get overpriced and much-loved espresso will begin. We’ve been reviewing finances, planning our year (our life, now, I guess), baking (baking, baking, I think a lot about anxiety baking), hiking (that’s me, A Hiker), and trudging towards what is bound to be another very long year at the end of which I will be within moments from loathing everyone around me. (2020 talk, what else!)

But until then, here’s a final (small) newsletter before a round-up of some kind of this long-ass year, and if you are celebrating something around this time, I hope it’s great, and if you’re not, I hope you’re eating something delicious and enjoying the company of great people. My Jewish-Muslim household, forever waging the War on Christmas, will be doing the same.

Blues Buzz

This essay, on top surgery, is a must-read. What cafes did for liberalism (and Jews.) A lot of Latin Americans have Jewish ancestry. Hollywood’s version of girl power isn’t ideal. American Socialists have a race problem.

El Paso. © E.A. Crunden

El Paso. © E.A. Crunden

Green Scene

Me: In 2019, Democrats are set to go to war with Trump over the environment. Here’s what a government shutdown means for national parks. Elsewhere: A deal in Katowice. Time is running out for coal miners grappling with black lung disease. A devastating tsunami in Indonesia.

Spoken & Written

“Last year, I publicly admitted to having a body for the first time, an act so embarrassing I have still not fully recovered.” — Daniel Ortberg


The War on Christmas, best achieved through eating challah and potato kugel on 12/25. | Small hikes, man, they’re great!

This is mostly about Texas

Travel, Texas, Twitter

Greetings from El Paso, where I’m currently squatting as I make my way through a small, meandering southwestern solo trip conceived primarily to burn through an abundance of vacation days. It’s been awhile since I went on a trip alone that wasn’t for work and I’ve already remembered all of the things I love and hate about traveling alone. Mostly — I miss my partner, I get bored, things become infinitely more dangerous and menacing at times, and I get stuck in my head. But — I love meandering the streets of new places, lost in thought, able to finally take a break from my hectic life to be quiet, all on my own schedule, which I can easily throw to hell and cut off at 6 p.m. when it’s dark and I can bury myself in an AirBnB and read, or take notes, or sleep. It has its ups and downs, but, for the most part, I’m glad for it.

Being in El Paso does mean being in Texas, though, a major source of thought and angst and love and pride and misery for me, which anyone who knows me knows, right off the bat. I love where I’m from and I hated it for years and I haven’t moved back but I am always trying to visit. It’s complicated! I have a weird relationship with Texas and being here always means reviewing that, over and over again.

…which is made way worse by the U.S. presidential election cycle! To be a journalist in 2018 is to be online which is to be right in the middle of a political nightmare without end. And that means my life right now is seeing the words “Bernie” and “Beto” twenty times every hour and being unable to mute either, much to my steadily mounting annoyance. Something I want to emphasize is that journalists (and I believe this firmly) should be non-partisan: we don’t endorse candidates. You cannot (I feel) report on what you endorse. Which is different than being political and different than voting (I am political and I do vote.) The nature of a fractured, polarized country, however, is that when you’re left with two candidates at the end of the day, one is virtually always less likely to ensure the mass-misery of the nation than the other, and that is not great but that is America.

That’s how I see general elections and that’s how I write about them. Primaries are different and, if you’ve survived one, you know they’re hellish, hair-splitting, divisive slogs through a crash-course in why a two-party system can be problematic. (Two parties = two options = 5,000 opinions per side.) The Beto-Bernie ruckus is a good example of this: two white men who have not announced they are running for president have already split online Democratic voters down the middle. That’s been exhausting for me, for reasons that being back in Texas is helping me to formulate. Namely this: as someone who writes for a progressive publication and makes my life in left-of-center spaces, I have an obvious understanding of Sanders-esque politics. (I also like health care, want to fight climate change, hold the wealthy accountable, etc etc!) But I’m also a person from the South, with a deep awareness of the reality of how Americans vote. I knew in 2016 that Bernie wouldn’t win the Democratic nomination, for a simple reason: he didn’t win Southerners of color, a crucial, king-making voting bloc that arguably every single Democrat has nonetheless let down, without fail. This is also why I’ve never entertained the “Bernie would’ve won” argument I’ve heard repeatedly in D.C. and NYC — how can someone win a general election if they can’t win a primary?

Bernie is a (very old) white man, one who has struggled to appeal to, most starkly, voters of color. Beto, by contrast, is a young, hip, new white man, with vague politics and sweeping rhetoric, bolstered by a diverse coalition of supporters. (Obama-esque, if you will, to invoke a president I’ve long had qualms with after he orchestrated mass-deportations across Texas.) Both of these men are lacking in various ways (who isn’t?); both have some perks. Should we be talking about them a year out from 2020? In my earnest opinion, fucking hell no.

However! I’m annoyed by the dismissal I’ve seen Northeastern leftists show towards Beto, a man who came within 2.7% of flipping a Texas senate seat. That’s huge, it’s unprecedented, I saw and I gaped and I took note. And while leftist Twitter has largely dubbed him a centrist post-midterms, that wasn’t really true this November — by Texas standards, he actually ran far to the left. I wish people who are not from the South would recognize that for what it is and bend their understanding of this country just a bit.

But! That doesn’t really change my wariness, of Beto, of Bernie, of anyone. In all honesty, my exhausted, single thought about the 2020 election is that, in a country where people who are not white and who are not men struggle every day, I’m frustrated by the centering (from everyone) of people who are, in fact, white men. But I’m also frustrated by bubble-liberals, and by the disproportionate power certain cities (like the one where I live) hold in a country where most states and cities fall behind and suffer as a result. A number of Texas progressives I respect have argued that Beto should run again for senate in 2020, something that would see him remain to the left in a state that has struggled under single-party rule for decades. They’ve pointed out what people in D.C. and NYC have missed — that elections aren’t just about who is president, they are about states, and counties, and cities.

And sitting in Texas, where 7-year-olds are dying at the border while the largest number of uninsured people in the country struggle to survive, it’s hard not to feel the same: that maybe someone truly invested in the future of this country would think more about its parts than its sum.

Austin, pre-November. © E.A. Crunden

Austin, pre-November. © E.A. Crunden

Blues Buzz

On running in the city as a woman. What’s left of the Gay Left? Waking up white women. This love letter to H-E-B, an iconic Texas grocery store, touched me deeply and vindicated the fervor with which I maintain my H-E-B bags to this day. Tin House ending is garbage! I would also rather be straight than give my sexual orientation as “Q”. This essay is the most I’ve thought about 7th Heaven in maybe 20 years. Books librarians love.

Green Scene

Me: The Trump administration will revise the estimated number of lives saved by freezing Obama-era fuel efficiency standards following outcry. As coal plummets, the Trump administration works to save it, with COP24 in the background — where coal took center-stage. Anger and protests greeted the U.S. fossil fuels side event in Poland. Miami’s landmark climate gentrification resolution opens up a new frontier in environmental justice efforts. Property developers and golf course owners are among those cheering on the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era water rules.

Elsewhere: In Louisiana, the oyster industry works to save the state’s rapidly-eroding shoreline. Seismic testing, which could harm marine life, is a go for the Trump administration. Nothing can prepare you for this story, about an artist slowly dying from lead poisoning after years of using natural ingredients (shells). Florida’s new fossil fuel plant plans. Carbon emissions from rich nations are set to rise in 2018. Thailand’s Phi Phi islands grapple with a drinking water shortage.

Clean energy jobs would likely help the rural Midwest. Extreme heat hurts Tucson’s poorest. Alabama coal ash ponds do not meet EPA groundwater rules and must permanently close. Climate and health intersect across America. Bulldozers will soon plow through Texas’ beloved National Butterfly Center to make room for the border wall. Southern communities are reviving their relationships with electric co-ops. Climate change is threatening Georgia’s peach season. Turtles’ tummies are clogged with plastic.

Around the Globe

Africa. There is an ongoing rumor that Nigeria’s president died and has been replaced by a look-alike. The U.N. warns of mass-rape in South Sudan. A fire destroyed Congo’s electoral commission building with the country set to vote in days.

Americas. Peru backed anti-corruption reforms. Queer Brazilians are rushing to get married before Bolsonaro takes office. AMLO becomes Mexico’s first leftist leader in decades. Robert Mueller’s team has recommended no prison time for Michael Flynn, citing his active cooperation with the investigation. But Michael Cohen is going to jail. A federal judge in Texas moved to gut Obamacare. Wisconsin Republicans’ last act: making sure elected Democrats can’t fully do their jobs. A 7-year-old from Guatemala died at the Texas border after U.S. officials failed to treat her.

Asia. A pause in the U.S.-China trade war quickly went south. U.S.-China relations are also dipping for other reasons. Demonstrations for Papuan independence turned violent in Indonesia. Another day, another step closer to charging Israel’s prime minister with fraud. Sri Lanka’s political landscape is destabilizing its credit. The killing of a British backpacker in New Zealand has sparked remorse, outrage, and controversy. The Senate voted to revoke U.S. military support for the war in Yemen, a mostly symbolic blow to Trump. Relatedly, a U.N. ceasefire in Yemen moves forward.

Europe. Britain’s wrongful deportations. Absolute Brexit chaos leads to Theresa May somehow keeping her job, albeit with an expiration date. Paris faces its worst riots in years, halts fuel tax hike as a result — but the Yellow Vests rage on. In Strasbourg, a man opened fire on a Christmas market. Luxembourg will make all public transit free.

Spoken & Written

“If you’re not from Texas, the state might seem like one giant stereotype of cowboys, conservatism, and brashness. But Texan identity is more complex than that: There’s rural Texas, Silicon Prairie Texas, honky-tonk Texas, hipster Texas, Latinx Texas, oil-soaked Texas, Vietnamese Texas, and yes, gun-slinging Texas — just to name a few.” — Pryia Krishna


Go on a hike in a desert, if you can. | Eat a burrito, or like, 20 burritos.

A new deal, a new day

Last week I was in New Orleans, a city I love, running around, inhaling everything edible in sight, delighting in the Gulf Coast, and generally basking in the South. Now I’m back in D.C. with a deep chest cough and raging cold, scrambling to wrap up the year. Chanukah is coming this weekend (the best known and arguably least important of Jewish holidays) and then a week and then I’m in the Southwest and then back to D.C. and then The End! Which is how I think about the December 31 to January 1 leap, a social construct that still marks a deadline. I haven’t done half (almost literally half) of the things I planned to do in 2018, which is standard, but still tiring. I’m not rushing to finish the list, though. Instead I’ve been listening to alt rock songs I haven’t heard in 10 years, which is another byproduct of going back to the South — everything sounds like home, which is hard to explain to anyone who didn’t grow up in the region, but we just…listen to the same music, and don’t stop, even a decade later? Anyways I’m coughing and just heard a Switchfoot song for the first time since high school (and I bought tickets to see….Snow Patrol….in April?) and I hope your weekends are all going very, very well.

Blues Buzz

The Frog Prince. The Blackalachian. The Haitian immigrants powering America’s turkey town may be forced to leave thanks to the Trump administration. Journalists inside the coasts (i.e. not us DC/NYC/LA/SF types) — get your names on here! A new vagina won’t make you happy and it shouldn’t have to. (And while I’m out here with controversial Andrea Long Chu links, here’s another!) I will be thinking about this Lena Dunham profile for years to come. No matter how much you see NYC/DC media pushing for Beto 2020, please know that progressive Texans are largely pushing for him to run for Senate instead. A library on the U.S.-Canada border reunites separated Iranian families. Mississippi almost made history.

New Orleans. © E.A. Crunden

New Orleans. © E.A. Crunden

Green Scene

Me: Offshore drilling: never dead for Big Oil in Florida, apparently. Ryan Zinke would like you to know that “radical environmentalists” are to blame for California’s wildfires. And despite being cleared of wrongdoing in one probe, Democrats are still coming for Zinke. The company behind a Gulf of Mexico oil spill that has been leaking for 14 years have been ordered by the government to clean it up, ASAP. California’s nightmare: rains after wildfires.

The National Climate Assessment finds that climate change will hurt the most vulnerable Americans first and worst. D.C.’s historic climate bill is one step closer to reality. The Green New Deal had 15 Democrats onboard when I wrote that piece, 18 as of Friday afternoon. Rampant coal ash pollution litters nearby groundwater in Illinois. Brazil is already backtracking on climate leadership under Bolsonaro.

Elsewhere: Small farmers are keeping genetic food diversity alive in Mexico. France protests rising fuel prices. Finland has no idea what Trump meant about raking forest floors. Bernie’s got a climate town hall coming, apparently. Newfoundland, Canada’s worst oil spill ever. Venezuela’s last glacier. The Farm Bill stalled over food stamps. The war over Line 5 in Michigan continues — same for Line 3. Fuel to the fire. Louisville weighs a renewable path. D.C.’s horrifying weather future. More terrible Paris Agreement news, just in time for COP24! And Brazil has backed out of hosting COP25. Amid historic flooding, Austin’s water systems sank. In Indianapolis, an emphasis on equity alongside carbon neutrality. Some justice for Berta Caceres.

Around the Globe

Africa. Libyan refugees refused to leave a rescue cargo ship earlier this week for fear of captivity. Kenya may designate a third of its parliamentary seats to women. The latest Ebola outbreak is shattering records with its devastation. Namibia’s fight against HIV.

Americas. NAFTA 2.0 a go, at least until Congress weighs in. The shooting of an indigenous man has sparked mass unrest in Chile’s Araucania region. Trump’s efforts to bar asylum seekers from passing over the U.S.-Mexico border has hit a wall. (But in Mexico, a poor welcome for Central Americans fleeing horrors.) Chaos on the border ensued anyways. The U.S. prepares to designate Venezuela as a state sponsor of terror. Four people were killed in a shooting at Mercy Hospital in Chicago. Paul Manafort: STILL DOING CRIMES.

Asia. Japan is in the midst of a rubella outbreak. Israel’s ruling party lives to fight another day. Taiwan votes against marriage equality. Chinese gene-editing controversy! The U.S. gets closer to finally, maybe acting on Yemen. Farmers from 24 Indian states marched to Delhi to protest prices and to demand debt relief.

Europe. Germany has banned 18 Saudis connected to the murder of journalist Jamal Khasogghi. Theresa May seems to have fended off a brief insurgency from hardline Brexiters but you will be shocked to learn drama continues regardless. Tensions between Russia and Ukraine are boiling over after an incident at sea between naval ships, with Ukraine declaring martial law in 10 regions. E.U. discipline heading Italy’s way.

Spoken & Written

“But in my experience, at least: Dysphoria feels like being unable to get warm, no matter how many layers you put on. It feels like hunger without appetite. It feels like getting on an airplane to fly home, only to realize mid-flight that this is it: You’re going to spend the rest of your life on an airplane. It feels like grieving. It feels like having nothing to grieve.” — Andrea Long Chu


CAPS. | Latkes, of course.

Green ripple

Everything’s winding down, isn’t it? People hate winter and I love it, a potential byproduct of growing up in heat and humidity. I worshipped snow in Massachusetts, in Geneva, and now in D.C., and it came this week, right in the middle of everything — sudden good news for my family, surprises at work, last-minute travel, ongoing ups and downs relating to the election (American elections never end, they only lull at times.) I’m ready for the cold, even though I wish autumn hadn’t passed over in a span of hours, as it’s prone to in D.C. I’ll be in New Orleans next week (still working, just…in New Orleans), and then speeding towards the end of the year, with a trip to El Paso and Albuquerque in there, for no reason at all other than that I’ve decided to go to El Paso and Albuquerque. This year started so abruptly and now it’s going, going, gone, just like the snow on D.C. streets that arrived in a flurry and now it’s all melted, just like that.

Blues Buzz

What Beto won. A blue wave in Kansas? My Brilliant Friend! Finding the best burger place in America and then killing it: culture journalism and accountability at its finest. What it’s like to be rejected by your religious family. Amazon is coming to New York City and the D.C. area to completely and totally fuck everything. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is changing how politics is conveyed to young people, women, and people of color — which is huge. I, a journalist, endorse no politicians, but there is something painfully endearing about this Beto O’Roruke Medium post about…a jog.

A mood, if you will. © E.A. Crunden

A mood, if you will. © E.A. Crunden

Green Scene

Me: A green ripple in Texas has major implications, both locally and nationally. California’s farmworkers are still at work despite deadly wildfires. A landmark industry vs. industry lawsuit sees West Coast crab fishers pursuing climate change accountability from 30 fossil fuel companies. Mass-school closures across California come as the death toll from wildfires rises dramatically. Republicans and Democrats alike waffle on climate action — will Green New Deal lawmakers change that?

Elsewhere: California’s deadly, all-consuming blaze. The incarcerated firefighters saving California at great personal cost. Your children’s Yellowstone, radically altered. Virginia regulators are growing uneasy about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s potential impact on a Black community. Will Amazon protect Queens from climate change? My wonderful editor concluded her heartbreaking coverage of post-Florence North Carolina this week with this piece on the thousands of people newly displaced by the storm’s impacts. A Russian village swallowed by sand.

Around the Globe

Africa. The very ill president of Gabon is in Saudi Arabia for treatment. A precarious coalition in Congo appears to be falling apart. The country is also in the midst of another Ebola outbreak and 8 U.N. peacekeepers have been killed. In Anglophone Cameroon, violence continues. The E.U. may move away from ties with Tanzania amid widespread crackdowns on human rights. At least 20 people were killed as car bombs erupted in Mogadishu earlier this week.

Americas. Canada would like teenagers to not smoke weed, thanks. An Argentine submarine that vanished with 44 people on board appears to be found. International students aren’t coming to the U.S. Marriage equality, coming to Costa Rica! The caravan is still coming, full of people desperately seeking a better life. Brazil-Cuba relations disintegrated further this week. Florida, forever the site of election disasters historic and contemporary. The U.S. eyes targeting Julian Assange.

Asia. It’s that time of year again: fighting has broken out in Gaza and Israel’s right-wing defense minister resigned. New evidence has emerged indicating what we knew: that the highest rungs of Saudi government knew about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Peace in Japanese-Russo relations? Bangladesh’s efforts to return minority Rohingya refugees to Burma didn’t go well.

Europe. From France, a denouncement of nationalism. The latest Brexit news is that a deal was reached….and then Theresa May’s cabinet had a meltdown. The European Commission is set to discipline Italy over its budget. Massive protests over consent and rape culture ripped through Ireland this week.

Spoken & Written

“I’ve been asking myself what the other side of this looks like. How do I do this better? Is there a way to celebrate a place without the possibility of destroying it? Or is this just what we are now -- a horde with a checklist and a camera phone, intent on self-producing the destruction of anything left that feels real, one Instagram story at a time?” — Kevin Alexander


A lot of lists — the end of the year is coming! | Get out if you can — I’ll be working remotely in New Orleans next week and I can’t wait to be back in the South.

A start and a stop

There’s a lot going on right now, in my life and in the world. I spent a sizable portion of the last two weeks ricocheting between hope and all-consuming despair, something that hasn’t helped my fun new TMJ problem, the apparent source of months of ear pain. For Texans, for Jews, for queer people, it’s been a ride, and I feel very much at the intersection of what it means to be all of those things. I’m furious with so many people, inspired by so many others. I miss home and I wish I had been there on election night and I keep hoping maybe I will be there next time and maybe nearly three decades of waiting will finally pay off, there will finally be an earth-shattering shift, everything we know about the Lone Star State will change, forever. Who knows (not me.)

I’ve been frustrated with the coverage of Texas by coastal D.C. and NYC media, weary of the way the South is painted and perceived. I’m still incredibly anxious about Georgia and Florida, with those two states occupying my thoughts long past the end of Tuesday night. I’m also still thinking about the beatings climate took that night, and how everything just seems so, so bleak all of the time. But on Friday I had an upbeat interview with an advocate who firmly believes the fight is just beginning on carbon pricing; I’ve been hearing tremendous enthusiasm from friends in Texas, excited and energized. So it isn’t all a black chasm — I just wish, and I’m sure many others do as well, that at some point everything would just be better, even a little bit.

Blues Buzz

Queer Jews on why they love being Jewish. Something is happening in Texas. They don’t kill us because of how we pray. The last days of Beto mania in Texas (a candidate carried by women.) Radical queer politics in the South and Appalachia. National media would have you believe Texas is devastated, a take that is inaccurate: Beto’s new, blue machine has changed the state forever. In the Deep South, running to the left was a good idea after all. On Ali Smith’s fast-paced, quick-dropping seasonal quarter, a tale of our modern woes. LUCY MCBATH. How a woman becomes a lake. I do actually really find Gillian Flynn fascinating.

My beloved hometown. © E.A. Crunden

My beloved hometown. © E.A. Crunden


Florida constitutionally bans offshore drilling — and indoor vaping. Landmark climate efforts failed in Colorado and Washington after Big Oil spent nearly $70 million to defeat them. Another climate denier will replace Lamar Smith — but there are some silver linings in this story. Michigan didn’t have a green wave but it did get what it needed. A triumph for indigenous communities and a blow to the Trump administration as a judge rules against the Keystone XL pipeline. Carbon pricing is not dead — it’s only just getting started.

Around the Globe

Africa. Ethiopia eyes launching its first satellite. A mass-kidnapping in Cameroon has so far largely resulted in releases. Sudan is set to be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. The U.N. has called for Libya’s election to take place in 2019.

Americas. Canada’s weed explosion. Under Bolsonaro, Brazilian ties to Cuba may be on the chopping block. Also, Brazil’s halal meat industry is about to be compromised if the country moves its Israel embassy to Jerusalem. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the first victim of the post-midterms firings. Twelve people were killed in a mass-shooting in California. Trump massively moved to restrict asylum seekers.

Asia. The U.S. has mass-imposed pre-Iran Deal sanctions on Iran, as the country’s economy (and people) suffer the results. Yemen’s brutal famine worsens amid unending war. The Pakistani attorney for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, has fled the country while Italy is eyeing offering her asylum.

Europe. Anti-corruption Ukrainian activist Kateryna Handzyuk died following an acid attack. Flooding in Sicily has killed at least 12 people. Hungary follows Poland’s lead on slowly gutting the judiciary (to the consternation of leftists.) The mayor of Warsaw has blocked a planned far-right rally.

Green Scene

A new study finds that wildfires hurt people of color and low-income communities more. The seeds of indigenous food sovereignty. Rural America is living out its own water crisis. Utilities are quietly praising EPA environmental regulation rollbacks. Tribes protesting Michigan’s Line 5 are ready to go all-out. Toxic smog coats Delhi.

Spoken & Written

“Weeks ago, I wasn’t dreading Beto losing nearly as much as I was dreading the inevitable ‘Texas sucks’ takes from people who are supposed to be our progressive allies.” — Erica Huff, a Beto voter.


Media written by the people who actually live in the places being covered. | Sleep.

Broken beyond words

Blues Buzz

A prayer for American Jewry. The Jews of Pittsburgh bury their dead. Squirrel Hill’s diversity is a threat to white supremacy. Jews will always be strangers. The wrong kind of trans visibility. (And the right kind!) Related: On not being an invisible trans woman. Is a successful life without kids creative enough? Inside Beto’s plan to turn out Black voters in Houston. Materialism and Jewish reformation. The definitive takedown of Bohemian Rhapsody, a movie that fails to honor Freddie Mercury’s queerness (and his identity as a brown immigrant.)

Florida. © E.A. Crunden

Florida. © E.A. Crunden


For Brazilian environmental activists, a nightmare begins. In Florence’s aftermath, North Carolina signs on to the Paris agreement. Ryan Zinke, always coming through to supply breaking news. Florida farmworkers are in danger as the planet warms. A young people’s climate change lawsuit against the U.S. government survives to fight another day. On public lands, California loses against the Trump administration. Climate change: very gone from the EPA website.

Around the Globe

Africa. In Uganda, taxes on junk food aim to help fund HIV treatment programs. Fifteen people were injured when a suicide bomber targeted an area in Tunis. South Africa’s unemployment rate is rising. Ethiopia sees its first woman at the head of the country’s highest court.

Americas. A far-right populist who has attacked vulnerable communities and pledged to target environmental regulations wins in Brazil. Fleeing Venezuelans wound up trapped on the Peru-Ecuador border. In Pittsburgh, Muslims come through for Jews. Trump is sending troops to the border for seemingly no reason. In arguably the lowest point of the Trump administration so far, the president is floating an executive order targeting birthright citizenship, something that would be unconstitutional. Texas Democrats just want to be closer to Beto.

Asia. Nearly 200 people died when an Indonesian plane crashed shortly after take-off. A Christian woman accused of blasphemy in Pakistan has been acquitted. A notorious Pakistani extremist appears to be dead. In Afghanistan, the Taliban continues to gain. Asia’s cities are facing a mounting food challenge. Sri Lanka is still embroiled in political drama.

Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not seek another term. Now Austria is backing out of a U.N. migration pact. Your latest Brexit news: we still have no Brexit news apart from panic!

Green Scene

Istanbul is using recyclables in place of metro fees. Air pollution is choking Europe. Puerto Rico’s hurricane response plan “does not exist.” Florida’s environmental election cometh. An uninhabited Japanese island is gone, with potential geopolitical ramifications. Come through, bison. The world’s climate zones are shifting dramatically thanks to climate change.

Spoken & Written

“Appeasement will not work. For Jews, the lesson of yesterday’s massacre is very simple and very old: Protecting the strangers among us is not charity. It is self-defense. Every time Jews defend the right of American Muslims to follow sharia, we protect our right to follow halacha. Every time Jews reject politicians who demonize Latinos we make it less likely that those politicians will demonize us. “Hate them, not us” is a losing strategy because once empowered, bigots widen their targets. For people who define America as a white Christian nation, Jews will never be white enough.” — Peter Beinart


Poem without an end. | If you’re able — how about voting!

No one is best

Blues Buzz

The Trump administration is still going after trans people, to a horrifying extent. But the new anti-trans memo is already a reality for a lot of us, and allies, sorry, you’re to blame. Towards a trans literary canon. The United States of Texas and California. Another great Andrea Long Chu interview. Salt Fat Acid Heat is a monumental tribute to women (especially brown women) eating without care.

D.C. © E.A. Crunden

D.C. © E.A. Crunden


Florida’s algae crisis dominated the state’s first gubernatorial debate. Oregon is very much not down with offshore drilling. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will commit to the Paris climate agreement. Super Typhoon Yutu marks the continuation of an alarming trend, for the U.S. and for the world. A diverse coalition hopes to finally succeed in passing a carbon fee in Washington. Brazil’s environmental activists are preparing for the worst.

Around the Globe

Africa. A burst of violence in central Nigeria. Cameroon re-elects its president following a controversial election. Clashes between Somalia and the breakaway region of Somaliland have left at least 50 people dead. Moroccans are protesting sexual harassment. Ethiopia has elected its first female president, although the role is largely ceremonial.

Americas. The caravan marches on and so to might the executive orders. Brazil’s most controversial presidential candidate already has his cabinet picked. Anti-Semitism has consequences: someone left an explosive device in the mailbox of George Soros following years of vitriol against the Holocaust survivor. (And then sent bombs to a number of prominent Democrats.) Texas smashes early voting records.

Asia. At least 18 people died in a train crash in Taiwan. Saudi Arabia’s story on the murder of a dissident journalist is all over the place and Turkey is very involved in leading (and benefitting from) the pushback. Yemen is in a state of utter crisis. Sri Lanka is in some political upheaval following the collapse of the governing coalition.

Europe. Calm may be coming to a Greece and a Macedonia (name subject to change) near you. As Germany backs away from its ties to Saudi Arabia, it’s unclear if France will do the same. Ireland’s blasphemy referendum. The Soros-funded CEU in Budapest is being forced to close its doors.

Green Scene

Storms are raging — Hurricane Willa slammed Mexico, Typhoon Yutu brought hell and havoc. Central Texas, usually in drought, is drowning (and water boil advisories abound!) New York sues ExxonMobil, in what could be a landmark climate lawsuit.

Spoken & Written

“Many of the “allies” I see sharing “You can’t be erased” memes are the same people who are too afraid of using gender-neutral pronouns publicly. They’re the same people who haven’t stood up for trans people in public or at protests. The reason the Trump administration’s memo can exist is because most of the United States is still successfully erasing trans people, and most “allies” haven’t done anything about it.” — Jo Yurcaba


I had a way-worse-than-average-bad week, one that has left me reassessing a lot of the relationships in my life and general level of tolerance I have extended up until now to a lot of people. It’s not fun! But here are some things that haven’t been bad:

Salt Fat Acid Heat, an absolutely touching and lovely way of looking at food. | Honey. (Robyn forever.)