July 20, 2018

I don’t say I love you as often as I should.

When was the last time you told someone that you love them?

Not a family member or a partner, but someone you work with, or a friend?

It’s not something we say very often, and sometimes I wonder why.

When I was younger, people would laugh at me because I would say I love you to so many people around me. Some people told me that I should stop because it was weird; some people told me that I should stop because I was diluting the word love.

The reality is that I was not saying those words lightly. I was expressing my love for the people in my life, for the world I lived in, for the beauty and generosity all around me.

I don’t say I love you as often as I should, anymore. I was reminded of this while listening to Luis Alberto Urrea on the On Being podcast. He spoke so beautifully, so poetically, about love. He reminded me that it was okay to say I love you, to share the love I have for the people, places, joy, and beauty around me.

To everyone reading this, I love you. You spending a few minutes every few weeks reading this means so much to me.

Now, go tell the world that you love it, too.

A few posts on the blog, all of them short musings, you may have missed:

My lovely wife and I have been married for almost three years, and we’ve found a rhythm, a way of living a daily life that works well for us, that allows us to show we love each other in small, intimate, personal ways.

I love reading about marriages, about relationships, and the small markers of love. This week, I’ve been lucky to read quite a few of them.

What Romance Really Means After 10 Years of Marriage:

Don’t let anyone tell you that marriage is comfortable and comforting but not romantic. Don’t let anyone tell you that living and dying together is some sad dance of codependent resignation. Our dumb culture tricks us into believing that romance is the suspense of not knowing whether someone loves you or not yet, the suspense of wanting to have sex but not being able to yet, the suspense of wanting all problems and puzzles to be solved by one person, without knowing if they have any time or affinity for your particular puzzles yet. We think romance is a mystery in which you add up clues that you will be loved. Romance must be carefully staged and art-directed, so everyone looks better than they usually do and seems sexier and better than they actually are, so the suspense can remain intact.

You are not better than you are, though, and neither is your partner. That’s romance. Laughing at how beaten-down you sometimes are, in your tireless quest to survive, is romance. It’s sexy to feel less than totally sexy and still feel like you’re sexy to one person, no matter what. Maybe suspense yields to the suspension of disbelief. Maybe looking for proof yields to finding new ways to muddle through the messes together.

A Secret to a Happy Marriage:

I remember being in my early twenties observing these older couples, wondering, What do these people talk about? Don’t they run out of things to discuss?!’ I was so freaked out about this.

What I didn’t realize was that the longer you’re together, the more you have to talk about. You have more friends in common, more experiences. You have these stories about your lives, these stories about other people’s lives.

My Boyfriend Weighs Less Than I Do:

Maya Angelou says, Love liberates. It does not bind.” Before Kelly, love” always looked like fixing myself the right way, so someone could bring themselves to love me. Being perfectly shaved, perfectly thin, and perfectly presentable. Now, I know real love makes room for you to love yourself the way you are, and the way you want to be. I feel more beautiful than I ever have, and I allow myself things I assumed were only allowed for women doing a better job at being pretty than I was. I allow myself to live fully. I present myself to the world in a way that feels right to me. Love got me here.

A few more things to read and explore:

I think a lot about how we are all public figures now, and what it means that our moments of weakness may come to define us. After the plane incident earlier this week, I’ve been wondering where the line between our public and private lives exists, if it exists at all.

I think a lot about us, the normal ones, the average citizens. The idea that our privacy is in jeopardy is a relatively new concept, born from the 2016 election and the Cambridge Analytica scandal. There’s growing awareness of just how much of our private lives we’ve ceded to Facebook. But even now, most of us feel safe online, because what do we have to hide? Who would care what we have to say? Who is watching us? What’s the worst that could happen?

And then we board a plane.

I never expected the Globe and Mail to have such a nuanced take on the social causes of violence, but their editorial on only real way to stop gang violence in Toronto is spot-on:

Which is the greater tragedy: sporadic outbreaks of headline-grabbing gun violence every few summers? Or the fact that tens of thousands of Torontonians live in ghettoized communities with poor housing, inadequate schools, lousy services and a heavy police presence, factors that combine to incubate gang violence in those communities and deprive residents of any sense of belonging to the broader society”?

In our opinion, it is the latter. Forget the summer of the gun: We live in an epoch of misguided and failed responses to a serious social issue.

It took me a long time to watch the Hannah Gadsby special on Netflix, but I’m so glad I did. It was poignant and powerful and timely; it will make me think about society and culture and injustice for a very long time.

Her set builds to include more and more disturbing accounts of her own experiences with homophobia and sexual assault, and broader themes of violence against women and male impunity. But for every moment of tension, Gadsby gives her crowd release in a punch line—until she doesn’t. When the jokes stop, the audience is forced to linger in its unease. This tension? It’s yours,” she says at one particularly upsetting moment, toward the end of the show. I am not helping you anymore.”

We’re not born with an understanding of zero. We have to learn it, and it takes time.

Student debt is crippling people in North America, and the dismantling of our social safety net means that basic survival has now become a luxury:

I used to wonder if the people who worked for these lenders had families of their own, and if they would ever find themselves bankrupt, wondering where they were going to live. Most of all, I wondered what they would do if their own children had to take out loans to pay for college. After ten years of living with the fallout of my own decisions about my education, I have come to think of my debt as like an alcoholic relative from whom I am estranged, but who shows up to ruin happy occasions. But when I first got out of school and the reality of how much money I owed finally struck me, the debt was more of a constant and explicit preoccupation, a matter of life and death.

It’s okay to not like things.

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, is very concerned about where the web is going, like so many of us:

The power of the Web wasn’t taken or stolen. We, collectively, by the billions, gave it away with every signed user agreement and intimate moment shared with technology. Facebook, Google, and Amazon now monopolize almost everything that happens online, from what we buy to the news we read to who we like. Along with a handful of powerful government agencies, they are able to monitor, manipulate, and spy in once unimaginable ways. Shortly after the 2016 election, Berners-Lee felt something had to change, and began methodically attempting to hack his creation. Last fall, the World Wide Web Foundation funded research to examine how Facebook’s algorithms control the news and information users receive. Looking at the ways algorithms are feeding people news and looking at accountability for the algorithms—all of that is really important for the open Web,” he explained. By understanding these dangers, he hopes, we can collectively stop being deceived by the machine just as half the earth’s population is on board. Crossing 50 percent is going to be a moment to pause and think,” says Berners-Lee, referring to the coming milestone. As billions more connect to the Web, he feels an increasing urgency to resolve its problems. For him this is about not just those already online but also the billions still unconnected. How much weaker and more marginalized will they become as the rest of the world leaves them behind?

People prefer letters belonging to their own first and last names over other letters, and this seems to be true across letters and languages.

Helena Fitzgerald gives you the literary analysis of Magic Mike XXL you didn’t think you needed, but once you read it, realize it’s all you ever needed after all:

Imagine, for a moment, that all the big traditional Hero’s Journey stories replaced their turgid third acts with an extremely adult and incredibly joyful extended sexdance sequence. Imagine if instead of everyone growing up to be some kind of resigned 35-year-old cop, the Harry Potter books just ended abruptly a few chapters into Book Six and everything else was replaced with pointless sexy dancing. Imagine if two-thirds of Moby-Dick was replaced with a massively extended version of the sperm-squeezing scene, in which the men on the ship, harvesting the sperm from a whale they’ve caught, find themselves ecstatically joining together in a (arguably extremely homoerotic) celebration of shared humanity through the task, squeezing both the sperm and one another’s hands joyously. If all but maybe a hundred pages of the book were just that scene, you’d have Magic Mike XXL. Imagine if, instead of the interminable, lugubrious 14 hours of endings at the end of the Lord of the Rings movies, there was just a hot dance-freaking scene of comparable length. Imagine, instead of the entirety of Return of the Jedi, a movie-length semi-erotic choreography routine.

Ultimately, Magic Mike isn’t a hero’s journey, because it doesn’t believe in heroes. It believes in sexy dancing, and joy. Nothing is achieved because the story is not trying to teach us anything. Women are people rather than objects to be won or evils to be defeated; oppressive morality is completely absent, as are authority figures. Instead of heroes, sexy dancing. Instead of dads, sexy dancing. Instead of telling the story of why the king is the king, sexy dancing.

Summer heat got you feeling sluggish? Turns out the heat can slow down our brains.

My two favorite snacks (Doritos and Cheetos, crunchy, of course) are the two biggest culprits in how much air is in each bag of chips, but that won’t detract me from eating them.

And before I let you go, here’s a recipe for sambal chicken skewers that I made recently. They were a hit—you should definitely make some this summer.

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