Programming note: This newsletter will be off for at least two weeks, as your curator will be in Eastern Europe. No one send me Twitter updates or the latest from the U.S. government, thank you for your kindness.
Who will advocate for West Virginia? In praise of the deep cold. "Kwuaussie." The impossible heterosexuality of losing weight. The year in tension. Destroyer of monuments. While the U.S. has been stealing land since it first began occupying it centuries ago, I am nonetheless supportive when capitalism works for the greater good. Who cares about the great American novel? The Woman Warrior. No, your "flirty boss" who became your husband story is not an ok story. America values women less than men. Narwhals can't handle stress and are honestly very relatable. Norway's Sami minority are fighting the government over reindeer culling. Kazuo Ishiguro on diversity in writing. Butch, please. Goodbye, Eastern Europe. Black mothers keep dying after giving birth.
Around the Globe
Africa. Zimbabwe's new government looks a lot like Zimbabwe's old government. A suicide bombing in Nigeria killed 15 people. Massive blackouts plagued Malawi. At least 15 UN peacekeepers died in DRC, the deadliest attack on the group in 25 years.
Americas. Former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is wanted for treason after helping to cover up Iranian involvement in the bombing of a Jewish center more than two decades ago. A Brazilian environmentalist seeks the presidency. Tens of thousands of Hondurans protested and demanded an election recount. The U.S. withdraw from a U.N. global refugee effort. CVS is buying Aetna. Queer people can't have nice things.
Asia & Australia. An Egyptian lawmaker was sentenced to three years in prison after attempting to incite rape. The death toll from a cyclone continued to mount in southern India. Activists in Hong Kong marched against authoritarianism. Yemen's former president was reported dead amid deadly clashes in the war-weary country. U.S. embassy drama in Jerusalem. Lebanon's prime minister un-resigned. Australia voted to finally legalize same-sex marriage.
Europe. Brexit talks continue to fail. This is largely because Northern Ireland is bringing Britain's chickens home to roost (and, it seems, there will be no hard border in Ireland.) Russian Olympics doping drama. The former king of Romania has died.
Spoken & Written
“Due to my familiarity and experience with the process of surrogacy, I clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others.” -- Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ)
Journalism: The U.S. has withdrawn from the U.N. global refugee compact. A Florida man threatened to "shoot up" a mosque prior to his arrest. Muslim-majority nations blasted the Trump administration's Jerusalem moves. Another shooting. Trump finally called for an end to the Saudi blockade in Yemen. Discredited sting videos have now prompted a DOJ investigation into Planned Parenthood. The ban is back.
Hello, my thesis was accepted and this means tonight I have to read a small excerpt publicly. When I say I am a deeply anxious person with a terror of public speaking, no one seems to fully understand what that means and it's hard to explain to people who flippantly use words like "anxiety" without grasping what word entails for some of us. For me, cold sweats, heart palpitations, an inability to function or focus, and a general sense of enduring panic are all realities of daily life, made even worse in moments of actual heightened stress. This is the long way of saying: no, I'm not looking forward to this.
Once that painful task is over, however, I'm off. It's been so long since I traveled alone and even longer since I traveled alone internationally. When I was 20 or 21, I train-hopped around central Europe, veering off into other regions as it suited me. I flew into Turkey once at 2 am and navigated my way from Asian Istanbul to European Istanbul, a useless boy I'd met at the airport tagging along because the city confused him. Shortly after an abrupt breakup I flew into London, took an overnight bus to Scotland, spent a day meandering, and then took an overnight bus back. Once, I stayed up all night in front of a train station somewhere in France, sitting on top of a vent because it was warm, and taking turns keeping watch with a nice woman who had come from Morocco, lived outside, and was concerned about someone as young as me in a place where ominous groups of men were wandering around.
That was forever ago and now I'm older and I work a lot and until but a few days ago I worked and went to school and that was most of my life. It's hard to travel when you have very little time and very few days off and very little money because one of your monthly paychecks is almost entirely for rent and the other has to be divided between loans, groceries, basic household needs, and, you know, the occasional moment of enjoyment. But now I'm going and I'll be gone for awhile. I'll be spending the entirety of Chanukah in a region where Jews once thrived and later died in staggering numbers. It will be very cold and I will be very much by myself. Off we go, I guess.