Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Four great reads on the Internet

A wise person once said, "Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life." Reading is like time travel. Reading is like watching a movie in your head. Reading is an act of empathy.  

I recently came across these beautifully-written, soulful and brave articles (thank you, Internet!). Take a journey and contemplate your "pet faves" (as opposed to pet peeves), walk in someone else's shoes (in this case a 460-lb. man's), feel the stress of working an 80-hour week at two full-time jobs while barely making ends meet, and understand what it's like to shed who you're expected to be in order to discover true freedom.        

Below are some of my favorite excerpts. Happy reading!

Ordinary Things That Bring Me Extraordinary Joy 
by T. Wise (Man Repeller)

"As I sat on my balled up coat, negativity coursing through me, I considered my pet faves. When elderly women call me 'baby.' When the doors of the train I’m on open as the next train I need pulls up across the platform. When old couples walk down the street holding hands. Paying with exact change. When I am the only person with no one sitting next to me on the Chinatown bus. When I see a shirt I love, there is only one left on the rack, and it is my size. Falling asleep on a road trip right as I leave and waking up right before I arrive. Putting dry socks on dried feet after swimming. When someone I love hugs me and later that night I put on my coat and can smell them for one second. When I forget to turn my early alarm off, wake up, and realize I have two more hours to sleep. These are not life-changing moments, but that could be their true magic."

The Weight I Carry: What It's Like to Be Too Big in America 

by Tommy Tomlinson (The Atlantic)

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned: I lust after greasy double cheeseburgers and fried chicken legs and Ruffles straight out of the bag. I covet hot Krispy Kreme donuts that melt on my tongue. I worship bowls full of peanut M&M’s, first savoring them one by one, then stuffing my mouth with handfuls, then wetting my finger to pick up those last bits of chocolate dust and candy shell. My brain pings with pleasure; my taste buds groan with desire. This happens over and over, day after day, and that is how I got here, closer to the end of my life than the beginning, weighing almost a quarter of a ton."

Dollars on the Margin
by Matthew Desmond (The New York Times Magazine)

"A $15 minimum wage is an antidepressant. It is a sleep aid. A diet. A stress reliever. It is a contraceptive, preventing teenage pregnancy. It prevents premature death. It shields children from neglect. But why? Poverty can be unrelenting, shame-inducing and exhausting. When people live so close to the bone, a small setback can quickly spiral into a major trauma. Being a few days behind on the rent can trigger a hefty late fee, which can lead to an eviction and homelessness. An unpaid traffic ticket can lead to a suspended license, which can cause people to lose their only means of transportation to work. In the same way, modest wage increases have a profound impact on people’s well-being and happiness. Poverty will never be ameliorated on the cheap. But this truth should not prevent us from acknowledging how powerfully workers respond to relatively small income boosts."

How Marie Kondo Helped Me Sort Out My Gender
by Sandy Allen (them.)

"A month later, kneeling and sobbing before my Marie Kondo discard pile, it felt silly, sure, that this book is what had finally done it, but I also couldn’t unsee my actual preferences: so much of the feminine clothing I owned did not spark joy.
I donated it all. I hung and folded the items that remained: flannel shirts, baggy jeans, t-shirts. I had kept a few dresses and heels and feminine winter coats, ones that had seemed really special when I’d bought them. I knew Marie Kondo wouldn’t have approved of my choice to keep them. Each day I passed them and they stared right back at me.
During the months that followed, I steadily shed feminine things. One day, all my makeup: gone. Another day, all my earrings: gone. (My ears had been pierced when I was two!) I tried to do as Marie Kondo said and thanked these items for what they’d given me. I guiltily threw them out, and then felt wonderful.
One August day, I donated the last of my heels and dresses, the ones that had once been my absolute favorites. I happened to run into someone I knew in line at the thrift shop, and he offered to take my box of things to donate. I put them in his trunk and watched him drive away. I didn’t say to him, nor could I have articulated, that I was throwing out the last of me pretending to be a woman."

Opening illustration by Eric Comstock.