Grief is a Jumble Word


Ken Otterbourg | Longreads | February 2018 | 14 minutes (2,710 words)

I woke up sad today. I was sad when I got out of bed, and I was sad when I went downstairs to get the tiny can of wet cat food for the four cats. I was sad when I nearly stumbled on the bottom step of the first landing in the basement. I was sad as I thought about what would happen if I fell and lay in the basement for several hours with a broken leg or a concussion while the cats ate the cat food and licked my face and the dog wondered where I was after he had heard the pop top on the cat food can that signaled it was soon to be his turn. But I did not fall. So, I was sad when I let Bailey out of his crate and…

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Chicken University


It is true what they say about never truly see something until you draw it. Who knew chickens looked so fierce?! And who knew there were so many sizes and colors of eggs?


A while back I took pictures of some chickens that belong to a friend of mine. I thought they might make good sketching material and I found their colors intreguing. Yesterday I pulled up the photos I had taken and started drawing.  As I worked, I began to have questions about the behavior and characteristics of the the chickens and about the different breeds. I called my friend and she was very generous in sharing some knowledge and anticdotes about her chickens. Some of the information she shared I wrote in the spaces between the sketches. I think the handwriting adds some nice texture to the sketch, and a feeling similar to chicken scratching. By the time…

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Speaking Candidly about Opioid Dependence and Legal, Safe Alternatives


Every ten minutes, an American dies from opioid abuse. In fact, drug overdose is America’s main cause of accidental death. And yet, as journalist Janet Burns points out at Forbes, “the U. S. assigns more favorable legal status to around 50 different opioids than it does to cannabis or psilocybin mushrooms.” Most of those 50 opioids are prescription drugs.

With disarming candor, Burns describes the way a seemingly routine painkiller script led her to full-blown dependence. Going into debt, having to move, buying drugs on the street to ward off withdrawal ─ her experience with prescription painkillers mirrors the experience of the majority of Americans’ who have opioid addiction disorder; four out of five American heroin users started their dependence with prescription medication. Burns uses her experience to make a case for the benefits of legal, accessible medical marijuana to treat the ailments that lead people to opioids. And…

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Weight Loss Does Not Cure Depression: How the World’s Heaviest Man Lost it All


At GQ, Justin Heckert profiles Paul Mason, who ballooned to 980 lbs. eating to forget childhood abuse and horrific loneliness. Mason lost 700 lbs. after bariatric surgery and discovers that, despite the experiences now available to him with newfound mobility, happiness remains elusive; dramatic weight loss does nothing to treat the underlying depression and emotional trauma that caused him to eat to excess in the first place.

His father, Roy, was overweight and contracted diabetes at age 29. “I remember one Sunday mum cooking salad,” Mason said. “Mum had prepared a salad for all of us with some cold meat. We weren’t allowed to sit at the table until dad sat down. He sat down and looked at the plate, and said, ‘What’s this rabbit food?’ She said, ‘I thought we’d have a change.’ He slammed his plate across the table and said, ‘I want my roast. Now…

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The Hotel of Multiple Realities


Emily Carter Roiphe | Longreads | February 2018 | 14 minutes (3,466 words)

The Waiting Room

I was leaning on my husband’s shoulder one day as we were walking through a lobby that seemed a bit crowded for the part of New Mexico where we lived. On the soundtrack there was some desultory chatter and the hum of fluorescent lights.

“Where are we NOW?” I asked in exasperation.

“You had a brain aneurysm, sweetheart, you had brain surgery.”

“Is the surgery over?” I asked.

“Yes, for a whole day,” he said.

“So, we can go now?”

We’d been planning to go camping in Monument Valley, and I didn’t want to complicate our schedule. I’d had something wrong, but they fixed it, I felt fine, could we please get on with it? Then I saw his face. Usually, my husband is pretty cocky in public, thinking that he has me, and…

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Little Führers Everywhere


Vegas TenoldEverything You Love Will Burn | Nation Books | February 2018 | 20 minutes (5,442 words)

The first time I met Matthew Heimbach was in 2011, shortly after my trip to New Jersey with the National Socialist Moment. Our meeting was completely coincidental, and we would both forget about it for several years until we met again. That summer I found myself in the woods of northern North Carolina at the invitation of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. My experience with the NSM had resulted in more questions than answers, and I figured that if I wanted to understand the white supremacist movement in America, I might as well start with the “Original Boys in the Hood,” as one of their more popular t-shirts stated.

It took some driving around to find the location of the Loyal White Knights rally. This was…

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To Live and Die in Utopian New Zealand


If the world is going to end with a whimper not a bang, then some of the world’s richest people are going to whimper together in New Zealand. People like Trump supporter and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel have staked their claim on the small island nation as the ideal refuge during a global apocalypse. The narcissism involved in such survivalism is staggering but par for the course; capitalists like Thiel have destabilized our world economically and ecologically, and now they want to buy their way out of the destructive ramifications in someone else’s country. New Zealand has strict rules around citizenship and land ownership for foreign nationals, which is why Thiel’s secretive acquisition of piece of the South Island raised many concerns.

Curious himself, Irish writer Mark O’Connell searched for answers for The Guardian, to understand the peculiar ideological appeal of New Zealand to a certain class of Silicon Valley…

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1000 days


There was a pair of shoes at Nordstrom’s last week that Dave would have loved, but I didn’t buy them because I couldn’t remember his shoe size.

And, obviously, also because dead men do not need shoes.

Today he’s been gone for 1000 days.

That’s a big number. Four digits, even. But it hardly seems like enough time to start forgetting things.

I’m not a desperate person by nature, but I felt as if I started to drown a bit in that store. I began to remember every little thing about him, trying to grip the little grains of memory, praying that the effort didn’t let them slip through my fingers.

But it’s as an inevitable as death.

Life slips by.

I want to say my late husband wore a nine and a half, but I’m not sure. I didn’t get to keep any of his things.

He was particular…

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How Lead Poisoned People of Color in East Chicago and Beyond


In December 2015, the mayor of Flint, Michigan declared a state of emergency because of lead in the water supply. Lead in the soil had been poisoning residents in East Chicago for decades. Only in July 2016 did the city alert residents to the lead contamination, and that warning came in a letter that required eleven hundred people to immediately move from the area.

For The Baffler, Rebecca Burns details the story of East Chicago’s lead crisis and how environmental racism works. The Environmental Protection Agency is still trying to figure out which companies polluted this location with their old lead smelter and factories, and to determine the scale of the damage. The EPA might never know, and this is only one of numerous sites it’s investigating. Unfortunately, the disaster in East Chicago is one we will see repeated in other communities.

By the 1920s, the medical community pinpointed widespread…

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