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On Writing, Depression and Learning How to Handle Attention: A Conversation with Allie Brosh

@likearollingpin I love Terry, so I'll just say that upfront. But I really don't get why people think that "plan" question was so terrible. It didn't happen out of nowhere: Allie wrote, at length, about her depression on her blog and in her book; her book got published; Terry asked her about one of the topics in her book; Allie answered in detail and mentioned her mom asking her about a "plan"; Terry asked Allie if she did indeed have a plan. If you're a writer and you put certain material in your book, which you've taken two years to write and have seen go through rounds and rounds of edits, you're not going to feel ambushed when someone asks you something about the content of your book.

Elizabeth Smart laughed when Terry asked her the bad-breath question. It was charming. Listeners seem to project their own fears and discomfort with the subject matter onto the person who actually lived through them. Smart has been matter-of-fact and forthcoming about the details of her captivity; she wants to help destigmatize rape. So a question about her rapist's bad breath is a guileless piece of dark humor that Smart seemed to get a kick out of.

That said, the only time I got really uncomfortable from a Terry Gross interview was when she kept asking Jay-Z whether he'd really dealt drugs when he was working the streets. She came back to it several times. It was kinda racist.

Posted on November 14, 2013 at 4:35 pm 0

On bell hooks on Sheryl Sandberg's "Faux Feminism"

@Bunburying Thanks for responding, all. I don't think race has anything to do with my chagrin for "divisive" feminist discourse. Seriously. There are plenty of white feminists who are just as eager to discredit and tear down their colleagues. Prominent thinkers want to be the first to respond and point out holes in arguments -- nothing new there. But when it gets filtered through today's media saturation, with hordes of think-piece writers and bloggers and commenters piling on, to me it does seem counterproductive and divisive.

Posted on October 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm 2

On bell hooks on Sheryl Sandberg's "Faux Feminism"

Sweet baby deity (where my Carolyn Hax fans at?) this is tiresome. I'll never stop calling myself a feminist, but it's this kind of schoolyard-fight prose -- aggressively dismissive, broadly generalized, not at all sisterly or generous -- that makes me want to opt out of feminist discourse entirely. (Though not so much as to prevent me from commenting here, of course.) "Sandberg’s definition of feminism begins and ends with the notion that it’s all about gender equality within the existing social system. From this perspective, the structures of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy need not be challenged." Uh, no, that's not what Sandberg's definition of feminism is...at all. That's just the point A Hooks needed to get to your point B, which is all she's interested in talking about anyway -- her own, preexisting ideas.

Sandberg's copious research -- taken from actual scientific studies rather than feminist theorists, which Hooks complains about -- forces her to acknowledge that certain gender biases aren't going away anytime soon, such as the fact that both men and women respond negatively to a woman who doesn't "act nice." What she does with that information, which is to basically tell readers, 'Sorry, that's the research, so female workers still kind of need to play nice until they get enough power to not have to,' is the opposite of what Hooks seems to predicate her entire argument on. I'm not saying I agreed with everything in Lean In or that Sandberg doesn't deserve some criticism, but this is just beyond the pale. This is not constructive. Maybe I'm not understanding Hooks' brilliance because I'm unworthy of calling myself a real feminist, but seriously, who enjoys this?? Who out there gets anything from the spectacle of prominent feminists bitch-slapping each other in an endless cycle? Who comes away feeling inspired or proactive from this?

Posted on October 29, 2013 at 11:20 am 8

On The Bathroom Whisperer: How to Really Clean a Toilet

@Peltdown Totally agree about clean-baseboards level of cleaning. It's a nice touch if you can manage it, but judging someone for it? Nuh uh. To me, clean baseboards are a 9 or an 8.5 on the 0-10 scale of cleanliness, with 0 being hoarder horror and 10 being OCD-cleaning territory. Also, I don't think unopened mail on one's desk is what we're talking about when we talk about being messy. My SO might disagree with you, but I think general cleanliness has more to do with not having food, dirty dishes, dirty laundry, and just general refuse lying about on a regular basis.

Posted on September 24, 2013 at 2:47 pm 0

On The Bathroom Whisperer: How to Really Clean a Toilet

@Peltdown Doubling down on being messy seems...not constructive? Look, I feel you, because I am not the cleanest person naturally, and no good houseguest should even be glancing in the direction of his or her host's bedroom. That's just tacky. Personally, though, and I think this applies to a lot of people, the state of your habitat is a reflection of the state of your mind. Feeling frazzled? Look around -- is your habitat in chaos? Ok, clean it up. Even a little. It makes you feel better. Of course, some people aren't affected by it like that and it's totally their right to keep house how they see fit. However, when it affects other people is when it gets dicey. Particularly with smells. Your house can be messy as fuck, but as long as it smells normal it ain't really gonna mess with my head. House smells overwhelmingly of dog/cat/body odor/dirty kitchen/Glade plug-in on top of all that? I will be inviting you to my house from now on.

Posted on September 24, 2013 at 11:52 am 1

On The Bathroom Whisperer: How to Really Clean a Toilet

@Beaks For the outside of the toilet, as well as kitchen counters and sinks, I use a 1:1 vinegar-water solution. It still smells stanky, but not in a way that will give you an unpleasant chemical high. Also, the smell completely dissipates after a couple minutes. If you need to scrub, just sprinkle some baking soda over it and let it fizzle for a minute. MAGIC!

Posted on September 24, 2013 at 11:36 am 0

On 8 Headlines That Sound Like Upworthy, But Are Simply Attempts To Express My Withering Contempt For That Collective of Neo-Liberal Douchebags

@max bread Ppl here do that all. the. time. Sometimes competitively. Not saying it's not a weird and somewhat unfortunate internet byproduct, but it seems to be the norm, not cause to trot out all caps.

Posted on September 20, 2013 at 3:13 pm 1

On Advice For Writing; Or, What I Know So Far, Which Might Actually Be Nothing At All

THANK YOU

Posted on September 17, 2013 at 5:28 pm 0

On Friday Open Thread

Posted on September 6, 2013 at 4:40 pm 0

On Claire Danes: Legend

I read this last night over the course of a couple whiskeys and felt like the magazine would levitate off my lap, so imbued was it with the magical awesomeness of Claire Danes. She totally seems to deserve it -- she seems talented, hardworking, really smart, weird, and kind -- but the pullquotes above aren't even the most glowing parts of that article. I had to laugh when someone said, referring to Danes and the writer of "My So-Called Life," that "they seemed to give birth to each other." Hairs standing on the back of producers' necks and so forth. It also prompted me to schedule a sleepover night so as to watch "Romeo + Juliet" for the first time since middle school.

Posted on September 5, 2013 at 11:23 am 0