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.
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.
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.