Posts Tagged ‘stories’

Friday link roundup 7/28

From the New York Times: 5 takeaways from last night’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

This map shows the most popular attraction in each state in the U.S.

10 years after an urban bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, a survivor tells her story.

There’s a trend in U.S. kindergartens of more work and less play.

According to a recent study, fairy tales may be older than originally thought.

The military spends more on Viagra than on transgender service members’ health care. Stories of several transgender people who served in the military.


Link roundup 7/15

First look at the new A Wrinkle in Time trailer.

On the contracting and expanding nature of grief.

A Delaware-sized iceberg broke off of Antarctica.

A teacher’s perspective on name-shaming in classrooms and the potential of underlying racism.

Hug a baby, grow a brain. Why hugging babies and young children may increase brain growth and intelligence.

Great story of people coming together for the greater good: A family got caught in a riptide off of the Florida coast and beachgoers formed a human chain and saved them.

Friday link roundup 12/16

From Everyday Feminism: Thoughts on the question,”What do you do for a living?” 

A photographer has created quite a juxtaposition with his portraits of ballet dancers on the streets of New York City.

An article that celebrates a life of a woman who lived her dreams even as she knew that her diagnosis of cystic fibrosis would shorten her lifespan.

The news from Aleppo, Syria this week has been horrifying. Wondering how to help? This article from the Huffington Post suggests several organizations to donate to that may fund direct services and action.

From NAMI: On the 21st Century Cures Act, and how it could improve mental health services in the United States.

A tribute to the people – artists, musicians, activists, community organizers and others – who lost their lives in the fire at the Ghost Ship Warehouse in Oakland, California on December 2nd.


Moments I want to remember from the past week.

After my Nia class ended, the other women talk about their experiences with menopause. The youngest of them is 20 years older than me. “Don’t listen,” one of them tells me, “You have many years to go.”
“I hope I reach menopause naturally,” I say, thinking of my one remaining ovary.

Monday night:
I listen to people tell stories.

One couple talks about their recent trip to Sedona. On one of their hikes, they met a retired biologist who talked about climate change and how much the earth has changed in the last 150 years. He said something about the designation of a new geological age related to the effects of humans. The era of humans, he said, looking out at layers of rock around them, may be marked by a thin layer of plastic.

Another woman, a poet, talks about how she apprenticed with Allen Ginsberg in the late 1970s. She was one of five apprentices that summer – four men, one woman. She cooked meals for him and his colleagues and listened to them discuss poetry. She typed out Ginsberg’s poems. She learned more about writing, about editing, about criticism. She watched as he took others’ words as feedback no matter what tone of voice they used.

The poet mentions – with the humble disclaimer that she doesn’t like to name drop – that artist Georgia O’Keefe once told her something she carries with her to this day: [paraphrased] “If I every think one of my pieces is perfect, I will stop painting. Imperfection keeps me going.”

Last Wednesday:
The women in Nia gather around me, looking at my engagement ring, talking about throwing a wedding shower. One of my teachers says she might create a love mix for class someday in honor of me and my fiancé. I blush, embarrassed and flattered. “You know we mean well,” she says. “We’re like your older sisters.”

Hurricane Katrina, 10 years later

It has been 10 years since the U.S. landfall of Hurricane Katrina.  This week, there are commemorations along the Gulf Coast: ceremonies, speeches, art exhibits, a museum opening.  A lot has changed in the past ten years, yet there are still scars on the people, neighborhoods, and land.

I was there as a volunteer to do hurricane recovery work, first in the greater New Orleans area in the Spring of 2006, and then in Waveland, Mississippi in late summer and early fall.

I am taking this moment to remember my experience, nearly 9 years ago:

I am sitting at a desk in Waveland, Mississippi, 57 miles east of New Orleans, the epicenter of Hurricane Katrina.  In Waveland, the wind hit and the approximately 30 foot storm surge came at high tide on the morning of August 29, 2005.  It is September 2006, just over a year after Hurricane Katrina.   I am an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) volunteer, on my last project with my team.

I spend my days in a portable office talking to people, getting their stories, writing down their needs for intake and future construction and grant proposals. I learn to listen and respond in new ways.  I learn not to ask about someone’s house or home and instead say “property,” as many have lost their houses.  I see their grief as well as their courage.

The beach still holds decks that look like skeletons; City Hall is a grouping of trailers.  I have grown used to seeing empty spaces and damaged houses; wreckage and debris become a commonplace sighting.

swamp etc

Beauty amidst devastation

Many people did not receive insurance money for the damages to their homes from the hurricane.

Many people did not receive insurance money for the damages  and destruction to their homes from the hurricane.  This added to already devastating losses.

In the midst of all this, I can see life returning:  the Second Saturday art show in the neighboring town of Bay St. Louis has been revived.  Another supermarket re-opens nearby.  A small neighborhood coffeehouse provides refuge and a sense of renewal.  I see people smile and greet each other.

A sign of gratitude

A sign of gratitude

At the end of the day, I walk back along the beach to where I’m staying:  a small settlement of Quonset huts (solid, tent-like structures).  I feel the wind of the early Fall wind promising more coolness and reprieve from summer’s heat.  I stop and look out at the waves of the Gulf of Mexico.  I am standing in a place that holds loss and devastation.  It is also a place that holds hope and spirit.

beach waveland


Before and after photos of a section of Waveland.
The Waveland Ground Zero Museum is opening today, August 29, 2015.
From the Sea Coast Echo on rebuilding Waveland.

Bay St. Louis, 10 years later.

I chose to focus on Mississippi because I had more interactions and connections with the people there, and there is also less press coverage on Katrina’s effect on the rest of the Gulf Coast.  There are many articles about the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans. Here is one from NPR.

Several songs about Katrina:  Mary Gauthier:  Mercy Now, Katrina Version
Vienna Teng:  Pontchartrain.
Ellis Paul:  Hurricane Angel
More songs and films inspired by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath here.

Friday link roundup 7/3

Mary Oliver quote

A psychologist argues that addiction is not a disease, and does not use the term “recovery.” See why here.

On Americans and personal space.

Coping While Black: an article on the psychologically traumatic effects of racism.

6 Outdated Myths Everyone Believes about Bisexuality. Well, maybe not everyone. I have had people ask me, “What does that mean to you?”

A story on how a mother encouraged her struggling teenage daughter through poetry.

This week, Mike Huckabee remarked that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts “needed medication for schizophrenia” because of recent rulings on healthcare and gay marriage. NAMI speaks out on how presidential candidates and public figures using mental health terms in derogatory ways affects those with who live with mental illness.  Also in the national news.

This makes me very happy: One of my favorite bands, the Wailin’ Jennys, is fundraising for NAMI and mental health awareness at their concerts.