There’s one more other thing that had me sufficiently preoccupied that it delayed my return to JALC by 4 or 5 days. It was a new project (or obsession), but it’s one that deserves a much more thoughtful exploration than last night’s joking reference to “shiny new objects.”
One of these is the traditional “Advent tree,” where you hang a different ornament on days December 1 through 24. You will note that our ornaments do not so much get hung up as they are magnetically affixed to said tree….
The other one works more like this perpetual calendars do. You know the ones that have the blocks you rotate around to show the day, date and months? Here’s an example:
Our is simpler: no months or days, just number blocks we can rotate and re-arrange to count down from 24 to 1 as we go through the month of December. It’s also cuter, since the numbered blocks are held by a dapper-looking penguin in a top hat and winter scarf.*
I haven’t touched the Advent tree since I (magnetically) hung its final ornaments December 24th. But once the calendar turned over to 2021, I put the “countdown penguin” back to work.
He’s counting down days till the Presidential Inauguration of Joe Biden.
[CN: violence; white supremacy; terrorism, domestic & otherwise: specifically 9/11/2001 and 1/6/2021]
I have vivid memories of the early hours of 9/11, after seeing plane #2 go into the South Tower. I was living in the heart of Philadelphia, unsure of the scope of the planned attacks and aware there was a slight chance that the historically significant locations in my then-home city might be interesting symbolic targets. At a couple different times during those endless, rapid-fire minutes, I spoke to other Philly friends, weighing the likelihood of Philadelphia or Washington DC or both cities being targets this clear autumn Tuesday.
The detail that’s haunting me this week is something my friend L. said in that brief slice of time between the Pentagon being hit and us learning the fate of Flight 93.
I think I could cope if they hit the White House, but if they hit the Capitol, it will break me.
And now, a little less than 20 years after that haunting, heartfelt moment, the “they” that hit the Capitol this week was part of an inside job. Domestic terrorists.
I write this post tonight not so long after the final polls closed in Georgia’s senatorial run-offs—two elections that will have a tremendous impact on the balance of power in the U.S. Senate and, by extension, on the legislative agenda of the Biden administration and the 117th Congress.
I also write this not-so-many-hours before the (usually-ceremonial) meeting of Congress to certify the Presidential election results from November 2020—a meeting at which approximately 100 congress members* are planning to commit sedition by objecting to the integrity of entirely NON-fraudulent election results, on the basis of…
I dunno. On the basis of them being authoritarian asshole toadies, I suppose.
It’s enough to drive a girl MAAAAAD!!!
It’s also a fitting time for me to rock out another book review to catch up from all my vacation reading. Because the book in question is by a political operative who devoted his career to getting Republicans elected, but who felt compelled in this current moment to craft a “blistering attack on the modern Republican Party and its wholesale surrender to Donald Trump.” (The Boston Globe)
With a subtitle like The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, you can safely assume that, yes, this as another one of my socio-cultural analysis reads of 2020. It was a completely random discovery, flashing by in the slideshow of newly acquired titles in my library’s online catalog. But it felt like a timely book about an important topic I could do to learn more about.
So I impulsively clicked the “Place Hold” button and this volume made its way to me from Haverhill.*
In this exceptional work, Jones mixes memoir, history and statistical analysis to build his case that—similar to so many other American institutions—racism and white supremacy are baked into the DNA of American Christianity.
At one level, this did not very much surprise me. After all, as outlined in so many places (The 1619 Project, Between the World and Me, Stamped from the Beginning) by so many people, white supremacy and anti-Blackness are woven into the warp and weft of this country. At another level, this particular lens of analysis was brand new to me, as a non-Christian born and bred in Christocentric USA.
I have—rather demonstrably—a potty mouth. I even lay claim to it in my tagline up there.
This propensity towards foul-mouthed discourse probably explains my love for T-shirts with provocatively foul–mouthedslogans.
Now, I’m actually too chicken-shit to wear anything so bold and brassy, but I continue to dream of myself as if I were braver. And there was a time, back at Penn, when I had a mildly foul-mouthed shirt that I loved.
I am, of course, musing on honorifics today on account of a truly execrable Op-Ed published in the Wall Street Journal some week-and-a-half ago. You probably know the one—I’m not linking it here—where Joseph Epstein, some retired lecturer I shall be calling “Joey” for the duration of this piece, lambasted Dr. Jill Biden for continuing to use the academic title (Dr.) relevant to her graduate degree (Ed.D.) and profession (community college professor). Since Dr. Jill Biden is not an MD-carrying medical doctor, Joey suggests, she shouldn’t put on airs by using any title beyond “First Lady.”
Honestly, I wasn’t planning to write about this. It was so obviously click-bait, something designed to provide outrage—which it quite deservedly and expectedly did, despite the follow-on article by the WSJ’s opinions editor saying how shocked (SHOCKED, I tell you!) he was about the liberal snowflakes over-reacting to the piece.
So why give these douche-canoes more of the attention they were so obviously craving? There’d be better things to write about…
But then someone on a distant external ring of my professional circle commented in an email about how, ideologically and symbolically speaking, he and Dr. Jill Biden were equally under attack by this op-ed’s voicing of current anti-intellectual and anti-education beliefs. Him and Dr. Jill and their “fake degrees.”
And I nearly took his fucking head off. Which belatedly made me aware that I’ve been having some feelings about this all.
Back to my 2020 sociopolitical reading list—though, admittedly, a title chosen with the full expectation that it would be more lightweight than the others I’ve read.* It was the kind of book I expected to be a gossipy, tell-all: the kind where you half expect to be shaking sand out of your iPad case after reading the Library’s e-book copy.
It was not a book I expected to be such an ever-loving slog.
Hi, I’m Sherri and I like long walks on the beach, obsessively learning new things and brain science…
Now, I am in no way pretending to be an expert after reading a few online articles, but what I have read so far has me grappling with things in a way that is valuable to me. Like I can almost feel my brain expanding past some prior limitations and blind spots.
It’s an uncomfortable feeling, but also one I absolutely love.*
So here’s the provocative statement I’m mulling over tonight:
What if, by focusing on “empathy,” I’ve been barking up the wrong tree all this time?
Mr. Mezzo and I have a monthly Datebox subscription. I gave it to him as a Christmas present last year, and we enjoyed it enough that we re-upped once the initial subscription term ended.
For the record, this was not one of those passive-aggressive “you aren’t bringing enough romance into my life” kinds of gifts. Between my workaholism and my mental health, I have been the less-romantic member of this partnership for a long damn time. Instead, the gift was offered in the spirit of “I know I’m often too busy or distracted or depressed for romance, but this is my commitment to you to regularly carve out time together“—and I’m pretty confident that was the spirit in which said gift was also received.
I’m sharing all of this because one of the activities in a recentish Datebox involved rolling dice to randomly get questions to answer so we could learn new and quirky things about each other. One of the questions was “If you could have one wish, what would it be?”
I don’t actually remember how I answered that question, but I do remember that we then organically and nerdily moved from there into the question “If you could choose one superpower, what would it be?”
So, one of the things that’s been pissing me off this election season is all the calls for liberals and progressives to dig deeper and understand the Trump voter. NY Times think pieces on how we don’t understand America if we don’t understand Trump’s appeal. CNN op-eds on how we need to listen differently. Politicians and pundits alike have been telling liberals to reach out, to empathize, to build bridges.
And why has this been pissing me off? Because 4 years ago, after Trump won in 2016, democrats, liberals and progressives were inundated with the exact same advice. Listen. Learn. Understand. Build bridges.
It’s almost like there’s certain groups of (*cough*white*cough*) people who want to make sure they stay at the center of the universe and the center of all American discourse.