A slightly glum update (and a links round-up)

Hi everyone. Hi hello. I know I have not been answering your lovely comments or visiting your lovely blogs in the manner to which you have become accustomed. I’m sorry. I have been undergoing some life changes this summer, and although they are good ones, I have now been in flux for the greater part of four months, and I am reaching the end of my ability to cope with change. Or new information. Or new books. Or hobbies I enjoy, such as blogging. I am anxious like my head is full of bees. I am worried about the storm, and the Nazis, and whether the revised version of my life that I have taken some trouble to construct this summer will shortly come crashing down around my stupid, change-courting ears.

Anyway, not that anyone was sitting at home like “huh where is Jenny,” but that is where I have been. Undergoing changes and fretting about them. Not reading very much. I am not at my best, but also (ofc) feeling extremely guilty for not being at my best. Like who am I that I deserve to have days — entire weeks actually! — when I am not at my best? NOBODY, THAT’S WHO.

Oh, you know what’s a book I did read? I read a picture book about a girl who never makes mistakes. I loved it at once and it was #lifegoals but then, can you believe, as the book goes on, the girl makes an enormous, a genuinely mortifying mistake that would scar a real child for life; or if not that, then it would surely create in her a renewed desire to, from there on out, achieve perfection in all things. But in this NONSENSE PICTURE BOOK, do you know what happens? She resigns herself to making mistakes sometimes. HAH. The little girl in the picture book is WEAK and took the COMPLETELY WRONG LESSON away from her awful, humiliating error. What a terrible book.

Whatever. Here are some links.

On the whiteness of craft culture.

Extremist hate groups understood online platforms in a fundamental way long before the New York Times cottoned on, reports New York Times writer who doesn’t listen to black women on Twitter. (I’m being snarky, but this article makes some interesting points about how online platforms function, which is why I’m sharing it.)

Why judging the poor isn’t helping anybody.

Michael Twitty, author of a new book about black heritage and black food in the South, speaks to Hannah Giorgis of The Ringer about his family and his research.

Daniel Heath Justice on the students he teaches and the question of whether they are special snowflakes who don’t live in the real world. And a pairing: Kiese Laymon on people he knew at Vassar and their power and privilege.

MUMSY DO NOT CLICK THIS NEXT LINK. I WANT TO TELL YOU THIS STORY MYSELF. Everyone else, definitely click this next link. Okay Mumsy it is all right, I have now told you this story. Click away.

Watching the YA community doggedly figure out why Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give got bumped down to number two on the NYT Bestseller List by a book nobody had ever heard of was frankly magical. Here’s a YA literary agent breaking down why this story was so bonkers.

Speaking of scams, here’s an author who has lied about pretty much everything, including I SWEAR TO GOD making up an agent, building that fictional agent a website, and using a picture of Ian Somerhalder for that agent’s face. What is this world.

Wesley Morris on white supremacy in the pop culture of this summer.

“Jenny when will you stop linking to everything Ijeoma Iluo writes?” IDK friends but today is not that day. Here she is making me cry on the subject of talking to your kids about race early and often.

Have an amazing weekend! I will be inside my apartment all weekend trying to reconstruct my fractured ego.

  • Yes re being anxious about the storm and the Nazis AND even the bees, but not the ones in your head (although they are worrisome as well!) but the pollinating kind! Tough times! I will root for your life revisions!

  • TheShrinkette

    Listen Jenny you deserve a break you deserve a break you deserve a break you deserve a break you deserve a break YOU DESERVE A BREAK GODDAMNIT. Life changes are HARD, and I know you’re doing your best in the middle of it all. Gosh what is this picture book because I could use that myself. I too, will forever share everything that Ijeoma Oluo writes because she’s just so fantastic. She has now started doing these makeup tutorials on her Facebook occasionally, as if I needed more reasons to love her. Meanwhile, please spend time with your precious nephew and gruff uncle. And of course, if there’s anything I can do, just yell into my various inboxes across various messaging platforms. I’m sending good vibes for less stress and anxious times for you. <3

  • Jeanne

    I love “I don’t want my classes to be gladatorial arenas…” Every fall, I go around the room and ask my students whether they have responded better to strict teachers who challenge them or kind teachers who encourage them. Consistently, I get 15 who say they respond better to the strict ones and 5 who respond better to the kind ones. I tell them that they’re going to have to learn to work with people who respond to kindness, too.
    I hope you get to feeling better, although I have no real advice on how. My friends who are feeling better have mostly adopted kittens.
    My son is home from Russia early (yay) and now looking for a job doing something related to ecology that hasn’t been entirely de-funded by our federal government.

  • I have actually been wondering where you were, but oh god, I so deeply feel you on the upending. I am literally doing the same thing right now; leaving a job I love with people I *LOVE* (I cannot tell you, my best friends are here) to pursue a low-paying entry level at a dream job when I am so very old I can’t believe I’m doing this. I cried with six people yesterday when I told them I was leaving.

    Not to be about me, but to say that I don’t know what your transition is, but I know that transition HURTS, even when it’s got huge potential, and that potential is a terrifying thing to place your faith in. And to remind you that trying things is pretty much always better than not trying them. I believe in you, whatever happens, and I’m rooting for you.

    Love and good cheer.

  • After that YA NYT Bestseller List debacle and now John Smelcer I am left wondering what is wrong with people and how do they think they can get away with such blatant fraud? You have to believe they operate under the philosophy that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Meanwhile, I’m shaking my head here wondering why I even bother to continue to follow the rules (because I have moral fortitude apparently).

    I hope your transition is painless and smooth and successful!! I’ve got your back if you need anything!

  • This NYT Bestseller list thing is amazing on so many levels! I never pay much attention to that list anyway, but it’s a shame b/c many people do and it seems somewhat easy to game the system. What a crock.

    And I hear you on life changes drastically affecting your reading..I’m in the same place, but am going to try to get back to normal in December.

  • Oh Jenny, I know it can be salutary and even essential to have these times of meeting one’s own inadequacy and whatnot – but how painful! Wish I knew what to say, other than in my book you are definitely not NOBODY, you are a very definitely real SOMEBODY who I may only be acquainted with through words on the internet, but who I am glad is in the world. Courage! We all need it now.

  • My dear friend, I’m glad you posted this update because it gives me another chance to say how great you are, even when you feel like you are not at your best. I have spent the last year being and feeling less than my best, and truthfully… I don’t think anyone aside from my closest friends and family really noticed. Not because I am especially awesome, but because sometimes our standards for ourselves are too high and we need to see that it’s ok to bring them down a little for our own sanity.

    Dealing with prolonged periods of flux is HARD. Super, super hard. And exhausting and frustrating and intimidating and just the worst. So, it’s ok to not be your best when you are in the middle of it, because it’s just too much to expect. We all deserve grace and kindness — from people around us and from ourselves — during difficult periods… so give yourself a break 🙂

    Ugh, I just read through all of that again and feel like it sounds both more preachy and more zen than I actually am. But oh well. You are great. Life is full of seasons. Some seasons are really hard. It’s ok to cut yourself some slack when life is hard. Big virtual hugs from me to you.

  • Rachel

    Hi Jenny, don’t feel too bad about taking a break. It’s good to take one every once in a while, plus I know life changes can cause a huge transition in anyone’s life. I can definitely understand where you’re coming from. Wishing you the best and hoping your days become a bit brighter. As always, thank you for linking up such informative and interesting articles. You always find some awesome stuff. 🙂

  • JeanPing

    Yeah, I was kind of wondering where you were, but I’ve also been pretty scarce around the bloggy world, so. Life is terrifying a lot of the time. Go ahead and take a break.

    That YA ‘bestseller’ story is O.O I live on the very edges of that world, since I purchase a certain amount of YA (bought THUG months ago). This is something, wow.

  • Heather O’Roark

    I hear you, friend. Last year was a transition year for me and it has trickled into this year, too, and I remember at one point being so anxious and lost about everything that I went over a month without reading a single word on a single page. It’s totally okay and you should absolutely give yourself a break and just do what you need to heal your mind and heart from whatever life is throwing your way. Even good changes are tough and really impact a person’s life in so many ways. *hugs*

  • sending many Healing Thoughts towards your ego; it seems to me a Good and Worthy Ego, and I hope it does well for you!

  • Whatever is right for you is right for you *hugs* – don’t you EVER feel guilty about that! (And if you do, don’t feel guilty about feeling guilty!)

  • helen (a gallimaufry)

    Oh Jenny I assumed you were just doing that summer thing we all do when we just don’t write very much. I hope that as I write your ego is reconstructed and its fiery self once more. Change, even good change, can be so tough.

  • Jenny, you’re the best. I love how even when you’re not feeling the best, you can write a delightful blog post that makes me smile. However, please don’t ever feel guilty about not posting. You deserve all the time you need to feel not your best and fortunately, blogging is just a hobby, even though I’m sure it’s a big part of your life the way it’s a big part of mine. I’m sure everything will work out and I admire your bravery in making some changes 🙂

    • PS – I’m reading Persepolis right now because of your surprise I’d not read any graphic nonfiction yet, so also thank you for pushing my to read new things!

  • Akilah

    I am in the same boat re: life changes (hence why I am reading this post two weeks after you wrote it!). Anyway, hope things settle down soon, etc.