HELLO and welcome to the 176th installment of Things I Read That I Love, wherein I share with you some of the longer-form journalism/essays I’ve read recently so that you can read them too and we can all know more about Judy Blume! This “column” is less feminist/queer focused than the rest of the site because when something is feminist/queer focused, I put it on the rest of the site. Here is where the other things are.
The title of this feature is inspired by the title of Emily Gould’s tumblr, Things I Ate That I Love.
Los Angeles Plays Itself, by Dayna Tortorici for n+1, May 2015
Traffic, Teenagers, Weed, Speech, Los Angeles Plays Itself, Herr Schmidt, Fear, Self-Improvement, Downtown, you know, Los Angeles, from a person who has been there for some time. Westwood.
The Therapist Who Saved My Life: On The Possibility of Not Killing Oneself, by Ella Wilson for Creative Nonfiction, May 2015
This is a person who did not have a great childhood and has tried to kill herself more than once and tried to “feel better” but she has not gotten better through meds or therapy or anything that’s supposed to make people feel better but then she meets this really great therapist who is more than just a therapist and everything changes. I wasn’t sure from the title that this piece would resonate, but it did. It surprised me. It also contains graphic depictions of suicide attempts, so you might not want to read this on the bus.
The Upwardly Mobile Barista, by Amanda Ripley for The Atlantic, May 2015
On the conception, execution and current status of Starbucks’ partnership with Arizona Sate University to help their employees finish their college degrees.
Not Knowing, by Katherine Bernard for The Awl, May 2015
Even though we have the same last name, we’re not related as far as I know, which is too bad, because if we were, I bet she’d write so many essays for us that I’d become dizzy with joy.
Walking on a path in Griffith Park with my friend, we play a game of egos in which we reveal how we describe each other to strangers. About her, I say, “She’s an indie filmmaker, she is tall, has bangs, she holds dinner parties in New York,” on and on. About me, she starts: “She’s a lesbian,” and the sound goes white. Identity coats everything we do. What does it keep out? I believe there is a further out than outside of the closet. And that’s telling the truth, always. I still want the possibility of being drenched, surprised by feeling.
Judy Blume Knows All Your Secrets, by Susan Dominos for The New York Times Magazine, May 2015
I’m confident I read every single one of her YA novels, though never those she wrote for adults — and she’s got another one coming out soon, which’s the occasion for this article, in which the author joins Blume in her Key West home to talk about all that.
In so many of Blume’s books, her main characters’ bodies insist on their inherent, primal messiness; they crave, they ooze, break out in rashes as strange and humiliating as desire itself. The body is reckless, but telling. In “Wifey,” her first adult novel, published in 1978, Sandy, a miserably stifled housewife in search of sexual adventure, comes down with hives and fever. On the first page of “Are You There God?” the young narrator says that she knew what the weather was like from the second she woke up, “because I caught my mother sniffing under her arms.” Growing up in Elizabeth in the 1950s, Blume was that kind of girl: observant, curious, forever noting the mysterious ways of adults.
The Twilight of the Indoor Mall, by Mike Nagel for The Awl, November 2014
The Collin Creek Mall in Plano is a dead mall. It’s still open, actually, even now, but there lots of wide empty spaces, like a ghost town that a few people still live in, like Forever 21. So this writer Mike Nagel went there around holiday time last year and this story is what he found there. I love this kind of stuff.
Till Death Do Us Part, by Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes and Natalie Caula Hauff for The Post and Courier, May 2015
South Carolina has the highest rates of domestic abuse and men killing women in the country, and many of its citizens a huge proponent of the second amendment and old-fashioned old boy culture. This is appalling, what goes on in a state where “the state’s power structure is a fraternity reluctant to challenge the belief that a man’s home is his castle and what goes on there, stays there.” This is a seven-part investigation that I hope prompts some real action because this is fucked. I love that legislators are taking the time to reject bills that do things like remove guns from the homes of convicted abusers or raise minimum sentence for first-time abusers to 180 days from its current status of 30 days. They talk to a Senator who thinks domestic violence bills are just anti-gun bulls in disguise. They talk to the House Minority Leader who says it’s better to leave the abuser at home rather than in jail so as to “preserve the family” by enabling the abuser to keep his job and pay the bills (he assumes, of course, that the man has a job and does pay the bills). They talk to another Senator who says guns aren’t the problem because there are other weapons people can use (to kill people who are on the street while they’re in a moving car? I don’t think so) and that the real issue is not enough Jesus in everybody’s lives. As is explained early on in the piece, “..they maintain a legal system in which a man can earn five years in prison for abusing his dog but a maximum of just 30 days in jail for beating his wife or girlfriend on a first offense.”
It just gets worse and worse. I keep wanting to tell you more and more about what I read here but you should read it yourself. And, I’ll be honest, probably weep, and note how very little has changed since Bastard Out of Carolina.
(h/t to K’idazq’eni)
Split Image, by Kate Fagan for ESPN Women, May 2015
A teenager heads to Penn to run track and ends up dying by suicide at the start of second semester. This article seems preoccupied with how social media betrayed her true mental health state, which sometimes felt like a forced conceit, but also, maybe not — we’ve talked a lot about how intense first semester alienation (like here and here) can be when it seems like everybody else is doing better at having fun in college than you are and mental health problems that often get worse in your late teens rush forward and take over. Social media would make that harder — it’s not just stories from friends to make you feel like you’re doing it wrong, but pictures, too. Anyhow, it’s a really well-done and well-written piece, I recommend it. (h/t to hellooutthere)