Friday, December 13, 2013
Nothing! May I suggest listening to Beyoncé?
December 13th Now and Forever to Be Known as Beyday, a Celebration of Excellence, Surprises and Grown-Ass Women
Perhaps you have already been up all night listening to BEYONCÉ, the surprise album that our Queen Mother dropped around midnight. Zero PR build-up, zero stunting, just this immensely commanding, soulful, glossy and witty, coherent but variegated, legitimately hip album to bring Christmas early and erase Megyn Kelly from the face of this earth. She's brought in features by Drake (the rat-a-tat on this one!), Frank Ocean (the doo-wop ghosts on that one!), BLUE IVY and Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (who delivers a rousing speech on feminism halfway through "***Flawless," a rework of the syrupy Houston jam "Bow Down"). There's a surprising and wonderful amount of grit, trap and club bounce in the production as well as the usual quotient of Beyoncé's rainbow-like vocal soar, and thematically the songs on BEYONCÉ (each accompanied by masterworks of videos! Thank Beysus we can finally free the hundred production assistants who've spent the last month locked up in a room of leftover Destiny's Child merchandise to prevent anything from leaking) create a picture of postfeminist "womanhood" (in quotes because I'm already afraid of the think pieces) that is unapologetic, self-aware, pragmatic, empowered and fu-cking hot as shit.
I'll calm down now. Just kidding, I'm never going to calm down. Beyoncé figured out a way to make people purchase music on iTunes in 2013. Beyoncé orchestrated a massive drop without a trace of media exhaustion. Beyoncé made 17 music videos and we're going to watch all of them without having to excuse their aesthetic theory or tsk at their pandering. Beyoncé just sonned literally everyone, and there's nothing I like more in this world than a woman outshining her partner in a field that he partway built.
The other day I mentioned to my friend Natalie that I had been single for four years, going on five. I spent a good amount of time around the two and three year marks pouting and lamenting this fact, but as I have become both generally happier and also satiated with myself as company, my singledom is just a boring fact, on par with my taste for turkey bacon and the borough where I live.
As I was telling Natalie this—that I’m happy with who I am now, and who I’m with, which is myself—she looked at me with her wise, happy, married eyes and said, “Girl, the person you love will bring a new you out of you.”
A new me? I thought. Will she still like turkey bacon? There’s no real way to tell, and that’s exciting. I believe Natalie, but I have a few things I want this “new me” to remember, and so I wrote her a letter.
What’s up, you? (Me?) Looks like you’ve gone and hooked yourself a someone with whom you share meals, go on walks with, and do it. That’s cool! I am writing to you from December 2013 with some things I want you to remember. I’ll use bullet points, because the relationship you-me is probably rushing off to meet some extended family at a baby shower or something, and bullet points will help us not to forget.
• You really, really enjoy reading before bed. It’s tempting to make googley eyes at your someone until you pass out, but please only do that in moderation. Remember that snuggling up in your bed with a good book makes bedtime your favorite time of day, lunch included. Secondly, if you don’t set aside some time at night to read, you probably won’t get much done; until track work is completed on the R train, the B will continue to be too crowded to move your arms to turn pages. Preserving this time should be somewhat easily done, because you’re probably with someone who loves books, too. If you’ve somehow managed to start dating someone who doesn’t like reading, one question: what? How? I guess that’s two questions, but I really want to know. READ MORE
Saturday Night Live is searching for a new black female cast member. The show's producers held a showcase audition at LA's Groundlings Theater last Sunday during SNL's week off, with all black female performers auditioning. Bresha Webb, Nicole Byer, Amber Ruffin, Simone Shepherd, Tiffany Haddish, LaKendra Tookes, Damirra Brunson, Azie Dungey, Beth Payne, Misty Monroe, and Gabrielle Dennis all tried out. Webb posted a photo of the group of auditioners on Instagram last week. "They used our space but ran everything internally," said a rep from Groundlings. SNL brought in its own list of performers to try out; this was not a showcase of Groundlings performers.
Brunson was who SNL cast member Jay Pharoah singled out when commenting on the show's diversity issue, saying, "She’s really talented. She’s amazing. She needs to be on SNL. I said it. And I believe they need to follow up with it like they said they were going to do last year." Lorne Michaels told the press last month, "It's not like it's not a priority for us. It will happen. I'm sure it will happen."
If SNL's producers like one of these performers and wants to add her to the cast, the show could hypothetically have a black female cast member as soon as January. Midseason has been a time when SNL has traditionally added talent, on occasion. With Seth Meyers most likely leaving to host NBC's Late Night around midseason, there'll be room in the cast and the show's budget for a new performer.
After hiring six new performers this fall — all of whom are white and five of whom are males — SNL has come under fire for its lack of diversity, with most of the criticism focusing on the show's lack of a black female cast member. The situation came under further scrutiny after comments from Kenan Thompson made the rounds. During the Kerry Washington-hosted episode last month, SNL addressed the diversity issue and goofed on it a bit. The show hasn't had a black female cast member since Maya Rudolph, who departed in 2007. READ MORE
The characters are as rollicking and fun as the ocean setting. The narrator, Ishmael, is just a really good guy, while Ahab, a ship’s captain, allows us to remember that anger happens when we don’t process our sadness, which is every bit as precious as our joy. Ultimately, “Moby-Dick” is a gripping story about a diverse group of men putting aside their differences to create lifelong friendships on a hand-crafted sailboat.
This fall marked the first time since 1999 that I've lived in the same dwelling for more than a year. That's ridiculous, but it's not because I have some unquenchable wanderlust. I'm just an academic, and we go where we're told (or accepted). I've paid nearly as much to move my stuff across the country (five times and counting) as I've paid in rent, which is a testimony to the weight of my books and the cheapness of the cities in which I lived. Let this be a warning to all of you bored at your day jobs and thinking about a Ph.D.: don't anticipate getting comfortable.
"The Barn," Valencia Street, Walla Walla, Wash., 2002-2003, $300 (my quarter)
This was the life! Senior year of college, my three best friends, $300 a month including utilities, a two-minute walk to campus, which was considered "somewhat far." It was a historical party house, which meant that in moving in, we were also agreeing to host an assortment of parties passed down through the liberal arts ages. It also meant the carpet was saturated with at least two decades of beer. When one of my friend's moms brought a steam cleaner, you don't even want to know the color of the water that came out. I lived in the basement, slept on futon mattress, and had my own sneaky personal exit door. The toilets were constantly clogged and nothing ever worked, but it was, to my mind, perfect.
As a high school sophomore, you’re constantly on the go from flute practice to doing homework to doing more homework. The Cute Baseball Player Finally Fingered Me dress will take you everywhere you need to go and help you remember that anticlimactic night in his older brother’s ’86 Mazda. Pair it with a silver headband and a shiny new pair of fingernail clippers! - $149.99
Flowers sometimes smell like shit, but let’s be honest, so do you when the President’s Physical Fitness Test falls on the heaviest day of your period. The Mum’s the Word dress, with its abstract, blotchy, out-of-focus red designs, is perfect for those days you forget tampons. - $79.99
When you gave your big three-minute presentation on the history of the rail car, no one was really paying attention. But at least your sweat stains weren’t visible, thanks to the strategically designed Dance the Polka Dot dress! You look so cute, it almost distracts you from the fact that your so-called friends forget to ask you later how your presentation went and you’re eating a two-day-old tuna sandwich. - $44.99
Vanity Fair published a long report on the NuvaRing in the latest issue, and they've put up an online summary that includes some horrifying figures and anecdotes about the female contraceptive, which has allegedly caused blood cots in "thousands" of users:
As NuvaRing’s manufacturer, Merck, which made $623 million in NuvaRing sales in 2012, is facing roughly 3,500 lawsuits against it, Brenner asks why, despite evidence of serious risk, this potentially lethal contraceptive remains on the market. Would a young woman use NuvaRing, Brenner asks, if she knew that the F.D.A. had determined that there was a 56 percent increased risk of blood clots when it was compared with birth-control pills using earlier forms of progestin? Karen Langhart, the mother of Erika Langhart, a 24-year-old who died of a pulmonary embolism on Thanksgiving Day 2011 after using NuvaRing for approximately four years, tells Brenner, “I want to warn every mother and every daughter: do not use the product that killed my child.”
And from a 2009 Mother Jones report on the same issue:
NuvaRing actually contains a lower hormone dose than most oral contraceptives, a fact its ads emphasize. But while birth control pills lose up to half their hormones in the digestive tract, the ring's dose is absorbed directly into the blood. Its package insert says there are no data on whether this route makes NuvaRing any riskier than taking pills. But that, say lawyers suing the company, is because Organon never studied the question before it marketed the ring. Nor did the FDA demand it—the agency based its approval largely on studies involving pills.
I've used the NuvaRing for close to five years. Anyone else out there second-guessing their commitment to this method?
I went to laughter yoga the other night, I guess because I live in a big city and sometimes wear stretchy pants in the street and pretty regularly force-feed myself kale.
Regular yoga is no longer the cure-all for your out-of-balance, toxins-infested mind-body; the cure-all is laughter yoga. Basically, laughter yoga is the new method for scrubbing out our dirty bodies and changing our brain chemistry and banishing sadness and stress from everyone. Forever.
The idea is that laughing is good for you (science says so, after all), and that pretending to laugh can be just as good for your health and wellbeing as actual laughing. So that’s what you do, in laughter yoga. You pretend—force yourself, even—to laugh. For an hour.
Here is what I learned at laughter yoga.
1. There is no yoga in laughter yoga.
I think I have a pretty forgiving definition of what yoga is (like, taking deep breaths when you’re trying not to punch people on the subway is clearly yoga), but standing in the dimly-lit “party room” of someone’s condo with a handful of kooky middle-aged ladies (respect), and forcing yourself to cackle maniacally at literally nothing for a full hour is just unsettling. It’s like the humiliating improv unit in high school drama class, but this time you paid money for it and everyone is 30 years older. My chakras are still unaligned. READ MORE
Edith Windsor, the 84-year-old plaintiff who paved the way for the Supreme Court's DOMA ruling this past summer, was on the shortlist for TIME's annual Human We Put On The December Cover Issue (the Pope won). She talked quite a bit on tape about her 40-plus years with her spouse, Thea Spyer, who died in 2009, and it's really nice. (She also shared a lot of old photos of the two of them. KNOCKOUTS.) [TIME]
I feel sick just writing this, and I don't want to lose something good, so here goes:
I'm a 34-year-old single mother of a beautiful, sweet, and healthy three-year-old boy. I never imagined having kids, but accidentally became pregnant three months into a destructive relationship. I kept the child and eventually got rid of the man (with the help of a domestic violence counselor and a restraining order), which was a healthy decision.
You see, healthy decisions are not my forte. With a few exceptions, I usually date the damaged bad boy, the alcoholic who needs rescuing, or the tortured artist. I scrapped all that when I had my son, and haven't dated since removing baby daddy from my life 2 years ago. Until recently. READ MORE