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.
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.
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.