An essential essay on publishing long features online, by Buzzfeed editor Steve Kandell.
Ivatan Laji Poem
Whose face do I behold mirrored
Upon the warm water I am about to drink?
I dare not drink that the vision I may prolong!
If I die, bury me not
At the Cross of San Felix: bury me
Under your fingernails, that I may
Be eaten along with every food you eat; that I may
Be drunk along with every cup
of water you drink.
In the original Ivatan:
Muyin para oinu si tauri a maoiaoanu
Du chinuhat ko a danum oia di ku s’di pachilupa
Ta pakaynaynamen ko a mavuya?
As anu madiman aku, oia ivuvun mo ava yekn
De asked nu kuku mo ta pachisuvusuvuay
Ko du kanen
mo a mahutu as pachidiludilupay ko
Du inumen mo a danum.
Sasha is built like an elf, with freckles and red hair pulled back in a ponytail. She was a shy and dutiful girl until she saw Ksenia on the day of her college exams. They marveled over each other. Neither of them knew what to call this feeling. They had never heard of lesbians. Literally—they did not know the word. When they kissed, Sasha wondered if they were inventing something new and wonderful. They knew they could tell no one.
But Sasha’s mother confronted her one night. “What do you have with this girl?” Sasha, who had never defied her parents, who had never defied anyone, was speechless for a moment. She had no words. Then she found one. “Everything.”
I’m wary of seeking this resonance by extracting some easy moral from the grit and complication of personal particularity: love hurts, time heals, always look on the bright side. Instead, I’m drawn to essays that allow the messy threads of grief or incomprehension to remain ragged, to direct our gazes outward.
Fall, by Bernice Chauly
I will write you out of me
each book a thankless effort
Not from promises
You treat me like furniture
like Glenn Gould when he played
It was said he would go mad
furniture would fly around
A chair, a desk, finding its place
in new configuration
In pieces, played out
My children, more than anyone else really, have taught me what it means to love. As I write in the book, I had this very naive and romantic idea that giving birth to my first child would “fix” me, that creating life would somehow balance out the negative space left by the abuse I suffered at the hands of someone I had loved. I totally bought into the whole fiction around childbirth: how my child would be a joy and I would look at her and feel love like I’d never experienced before. And like that, Voila!, I thought, I’d be “fixed.” Clearly, this is a really selfish way of thinking about bringing another person into the world, and it was based on what I thought I would get from a baby, and didn’t take into account all that I would have to give. And then the very first time looked into her face, moments after she was born, I realized that she had absolutely nothing to give me at all. I know that’s not a very popular way of talking about birth, because I’m supposed to say “I felt so blessed” or “Her life is a gift” or some crap like that. I don’t think that way of thinking had set me up for success, because in reality what I had was this screaming ball of pure want and need. I fed her and clothed her and put her to sleep, but that’s not all she wanted from me. Babies can be full enough, and warm enough, and well rested, but they have an appetite for love that is never, ever sated. And in that regard, I didn’t feel like I had anything to give her, because allowing myself to love her seemed like such a terrible, horrifying risk. As she grew older, she started to offer me something no one else in my life ever had: completely relentless and unconditional love. At first, it made me feel so sad and anxious and ashamed. It felt like so much pressure. I certainly didn’t deserve it, not after everything. And I certainly didn’t have that kind of love to offer her in return. But my daughter kept loving me in her fierce, stubborn way, and little by little, I began to see myself through her eyes: as a person who didn’t need to change a thing, who was already worthy of that kind of love. When my son was born, loving him came so much easier, because I had this really incredible teacher there to show me how it should be done.
Lying and error are the same word for the Greeks, which is interesting. That is, “to be wrong” could have various causes: you wanted to lie, or you just didn’t know the truth, or you forgot, and those are all one concept. That interests me, the bundling together and looking at the situation from a point of view of consequences and not motivation.
Some Thoughts on Working toward Gender Equality
In which I am told I do not understand a story because I am not a white man.
How can we possibly not get your story? We clean your hallways and scrub your toilets. We cook and serve your food. We change your grimy sheets. We wash your clothes. We draw your blood. We record your vitals. We fix your hard drives and your cloud storage. We stock your shelves. At the call centers we see your credit card statements and put you on mute as you curse us out. We speak our language and we often know the rules of yours better than you do. We are deft enough, witty enough, and agile enough to navigate two worlds at once.
What you fail to see is that we understand things about whiteness and America that you don’t. We know that it makes you uncomfortable to look squarely at bigotry and what it means and when we point you toward the reality of your whiteness, you are often terrified. You turn that terror into rage. And your rage has no questions (only authority and certainty). A writer without questions is the tool of a tyrant. It’s your certainty of history that makes you sad.
excerpt, Patrick Rosal, via Karissa Chen
Letter from a Catholic high school classmate who said “That’s so gay” as an insult
I just received this message from a former classmate. In the early 2000s, I attended a very conservative Catholic all-girls’ high school. When I once tried to stop students from saying “That’s so gay,” a religion teacher stopped my social justice speech and ushered me out of her class.
Here’s what one classmate had to say to me fifteen years later: