Things of the Week 3/8/17

Got this message on my teacup the morning after I listened to the podcast about poverty myths and was reminded of the misguided ways many of us think about public assistance. At the risk of oversimplifying complex issues, I think this four-word mantra says a lot. 

#Trypod:

I love podcasts. Every time I reconnect with friends I haven’t seen in a long time we always end up talking about podcasts. My go-to conversation starter at parties is “I heard this podcast…” almost as often as “I read this article…”

Most of my friends are already listening to podcasts but you, dear reader, might have friends who have yet to visit this magical, auditory land. See advice from Night Vale Podcast above. Meanwhile, here are some episodes I’ve taken in recently…

Radio Lab Presents: On the Media: Busted, America’s Poverty Myths: This was one of those podcasts where I could feel my perceptions changing as I was listening. I felt myself getting angry, too, as the episode deconstructed tired phrases like “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and heart-wrenching examples that make the idea of safety nets seem futile (or like a farce altogether). You can check out the whole series here.

Zapping Your Brain to Bliss (Note to Self):  I admit while listening to this episode I was like, “Where can I get $200 so I can try the Thync Kit?” Living with a brain injury, the idea that there is a device that could help with relaxation seemed almost too good to be true. Like Manoush, I’m still not sure I’d want to use the machine. I think there is some value to the ritual behind relaxation that helps us turn relaxation into a healthy habit. Also, one of the researchers interviewed mentioned he was wary simply because he wasn’t sure how the rest of the brain might be affected. And that made me be like, “Yeah, no thanks.”

The Horror, The Horror: “Get Out” And The Place of Race in Scary Movies (Code Switch)A fascinating episode on the intersection of pop culture and race through the lens of horror movies. I don’t typically watch horror movies but despite my unfamiliarity with the topic, this episode was rich with insights, both specific and broad.

Researching: Reasons for unintended pregnancies. Working on a revision of my novel that requires my protagonist to be older and hence, runs into problems in a more “adult” way. I came across this article from 2012 and found myself still surprised by the findings, even five years later.

“Why We Keep Accidentally Getting Pregnant” by Lindsay Abrams,  7/26/2012 on The Atlantic

Watched: Unreal, the Lifetime Network drama inspired by The Bachelor. I swear this show was made for me. I’ve watched The Bachelor with my mother and sister-in-law as part of a “trash tv night” we’ve had once a week for years. During our viewings, I was always the cynical conspiracy theorist, guessing at what “really happened” to inspire the events we were watching. In Unreal, all my conspiracy theories were validated and then put on steroids. The show is a fiery car crash and I can’t. Look. Away.

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Things of the Week 1/25/17

With the holidays and the start of a new semester, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. Returning to a routine has provided an opportunity to start Things up again.

So, About That New Year’s Resolution: One of my fave podcasts just did an episode examining one explanation for why some people can follow (or set) New Year’s resolutions and other cannot (or do not). The episode features Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project, and her theory of habit natures. Also, there’s a quiz (I freaking love quizzes). I got “Questioner.” My husband got “Rebel.”

The Four Tendencies: How to Feed Good Habits

Reading: The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate by Peter Wohlleben–I asked for this book for Christmas because I was so fascinated by the Radiolab podcast I heard last summer, “From Tree to Shining Tree.” Wohlleben’s writing style is personal yet informative, and the book is also fascinating.

Catching Up On: Finally watched Stranger Things over the holidays and the show definitely lives up to the hype. Now catching up on Season 3 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Sometimes that show makes me laugh so hard I can’t breathe.

DIY: We decided that the only way we could afford to update our kitchen (circa 1953) was if we did it ourselves. This weekend we began phase 1 (countertops and sink) of our remodeling project. Phase 2: refinishing cabinets. Phase 3: new floors. Bonus phase: tile backsplash.

Law of averages: I have four students with the same name in my Composition class this semester.

Fun Brain Injury Side Effect: Often, when I write the capital letter “A” a capital “M” comes out. It’s especially surprising to me to hear myself say “A” in my brain but see an “M” on the page.

Things of the Week 10/05/16

Listening to: Lady Gaga. In a recent episode, the hosts of Switched On Pop fall down a musical rabbit hole describing the ways in which Gaga’s music depicts both the “fame” and the “monster,” (complete with aural comparisons to Phantom of the Opera) and I’m like

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via GIPHY

Drinking: Decaf cardamom lattes at Annex Coffee House and Bakery

Teaching: Comparison essays, using Riz Ahmed’s excellent essay as an example:

“Typecast as a Terrorist” by Riz Ahmed, September 15, 2016 on The Guardian 

Yes, this: Recently, I read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for the first time, and after I finished I swirled with all the implications for modern society. Then, someone took all the things I was swirling about and put them in one essay, and it is awesome.

Is ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ A Prophecy of America’s Future?” by Laura Beans, 9/28/16 on The Establishment

Discovering: great literary organizations in Montana:

Helena Area Literary Arts  and Tell Us Something 

Purchased: an iPhone 7. (see Gif above) This will be the first time that when my phone was eligible for an upgrade I purchased the newest model of the iPhone available. I’m expecting that the jump up from my iPhone 5s will feel significant.

Things of the Week 8/3/16

Writers Being Writers: fave quotes from An Interview with Annie Dewitt by Brandon Hobson, 7/25/16 on The Believer Logger 

“I think it’s important to talk about the reality of being a writer. The glossy author photos don’t really speak to that. To the sacrifices that are made. And the times when you watch your family and friends who have chosen other paths make money, get married, move up and out in the world, have kids. You wonder what direction your life is truly going in and have to grapple with some difficult choices, all without knowing whether or not you’ll succeed. That’s, to date, the hardest thing I’ve had to face. My own self-doubt. ” – Annie Dewitt

“I’ve always admired how writers like Schutt and Salinger accomplish so much through the use of the unsaid. As a child, you have so little of the world explained to you. Your perception of events colors everything. So much of what you know is defined by the perimeter of what you don’t know, which is always expanding.” – Annie Dewitt

Reading: Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion by Alain de Botton

Rereading: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (thanks, Chelsea Clinton)

Nature: while walking by a city park near downtown I saw not one but three hawks hanging out behind the bleachers near the high school. They sat on the chainlink fence and watched as the crows picked over scraps. Whenever the crows found something good, like bullies the hawks dove and chased the crows until the crows gave up their lunch money.

Having My Mind Blown: “From Tree to Shining Tree” a podcast by Radiolab, July 30, 2016

Current Obsessions: my local library, evening walks, drinking water, ice cream (any number of flavors)

I’m kinda over it: the mouse we saw in the house a few days ago, despite many mice-preventing tactics currently underway

Bingeing: Gilmore Girls (3rd time), this time with my husband and in preparation for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

Pompey’s Pillar: Visited Pompey’s Pillar National Monument for the first time, and during Clark Days, a miniature festival celebrating Montana history. I was maybe a little underwhelmed at the pillar’s size, but the graffiti courtesy of Lewis and Clark was pretty cool.

 

Brain Injury Accessory of the Week: earplugs

 

 

Things of the Week 7/20/16

Watched: The Big Short–In 2007 I was a new college grad, and when the housing bubble started to burst I was too focused on getting a job to really understand what was going on. I appreciated the ersatz education I got watching this movie because I admit I wanted a dumbed down version of the financial crisis. The most obvious pedagogical technique the movie used was explanations of financial jargon provided by random celebrity personas conveyed directly to the audience (i.e. breaking the fourth wall). The technique was a bit polarizing, as was the movie. I liked the film, but I also appreciate the criticism the film received so I’ll leave these two articles for further explanation/consideration:

“Why Does the Big Short Break the Fourth Wall” by Tom Bond, One Room With a View

The Big Shot Review-Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale can’t save this overvalued stock” by Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Listened to: Switched on Popa podcast on the making and meaning of popular music I heard about this podcast on another podcast (Pop Culture Happy Hour) and have been really enjoying the depth with which hosts Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding discuss music. There most recent episode “Around the World with Drake” addresses music appropriation.

Downloaded: Prisma-Art Photo Editor – having way too much fun with this one. I feel like this app is the fix for anything/anyone who isn’t photogenic (though selfishly I think my dog is very photogenic.)

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Reading: Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker–an epistolary memoir written in the second person point of view. Basically, this book is two of my favorite literary techniques mashed together. And I have to agree with the celebrity praise on the back cover, it is truly poetic (Mary Karr) and tender (Colum McCann).

Street Art:

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I suspect the text and the stencil were created by separate artists but what a thought provoking combination.

 

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I think we have a street artist in the making with this one.

New Skill: key wording. I’ve started working for my husband, who owns a film production company, and one of the most help things I do (read–task I’m qualified to perform) is enter relevant search terms into the databases that host his stock video footage. This is turning into a great word-association exercise. EXAMPLE: make a list of all of the relevant adjectives or nouns associated with the word sun.

Brain Glossary: new term: “Brain Push.” Similar to “Brain Squeeze” except the direction of discomfort is vertical instead of horizontal. Like stacking books on your head instead of tightening a belt.

Fun Brain Injury Side Effect: When writing by hand, inadvertently replacing or adding letters to common words so as to create something like a foreign language. EXAMPLES: withing (within), yar (you), warnt (want).