Light is surprising

Blues Buzz

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

Cafe in Budapest. © E.A. Crunden

Cafe in Budapest. © E.A. Crunden



Around the Globe

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

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

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

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


Spoken & Written

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



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

Anything goes:

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

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

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

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