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.
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.
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