Happy October! This is a special month for In Earnest. On October 15, we’ll be turning one. Can you believe it? Looking back on this past year, I’m amazed and so grateful for this project. Back when we were having brunches on Jennifer’s roof, I could hardly have imagined what In Earnest would become.
Like many 20-something young professionals, I’m a goal-oriented person. To-do lists, schedules, five-year plans — these are the things that motivate me to action. Once the words are put to paper, whether a task or project or appointment, they become like little contracts with myself as empty check-boxes cry out to be checked. But this mode of productivity can have an unfortunate side-effect: while these listed obligations get met, often anything that does not make it into writing does not. Realizing this has prompted me to adjust my goal-setting strategy and include some ambitions slightly less utilitarian than getting my e-mail inbox down to zero: “read a novel,” “have lunch with a friend,” “write a letter.” A line-item on this summer’s self-improvement plan was “repair hair naturally,” resulting in purchases of baking soda and apple cider vinegar and an increased frequency of ponytails. On one to-do list, I scribbled down “find my voice.” At the time, I didn’t put much thought into what this would actually look like in my life. And although it certainly does not meet the traditional goal-setting criterion of measurability, this little aspiration has moved me to be more thoughtful about how I express myself and to learn how to do so more boldly.
As a law student, I have primarily learned how to research and how to think. I know how to familiarize myself with a foreign subject, find the relevant precedent, and evaluate the fact pattern at hand in light of the current rules. I like to learn, but if I pick my news I do not gravitate toward the bloody, confusing, evil parts of the world that require hard choices, deep thinking, and firm resolution. Yes, I went to a liberal arts college where I was baptized—full immersion—in the tradition of free thought. But too much pondering on the great questions leaves me feeling angsty and small. I stay busy to keep philosophical contemplation at bay, focusing my intellectual inquiries on policy and pragmatism.
Ladies, fall TV is officially back. This week marks Laura’s favorite time of the year. Not only do we start consuming all of the pumpkin goods, but our favorite televised guilty pleasures premiere. Shonda Rhimes has a new show out this fall. And, SNL is already off to a great start. Pop culture for the win.
In other news…
1. U.S. attorney general Eric Holder resigned this week, leading many to question who will replace him. It seems that Holder himself is already reflecting on his controversial legacy in the post. NPR elaborates on the story.
Every season has its own pastime. One of my favorites always comes just as spring showers give way to wide, warm skies, and hints of summer begin to murmur among the treetops. Summer means free time, and for me, that means books. Long ones, short ones, anthologies, essays. Come May, I’m collecting the titles I didn’t read during the year and forming my summer reading list. Because hey! I finally have time.
Take a moment to remember the last time you were hungry. Did you feel tired? Irritable? Unfocused? It’s hard to fathom that today this feeling is a daily reality for 842 million people. This means one in eight people around the world struggle to learn, work, and care for their families because they are hungry. Because hunger is not an issue that is given a spotlight often, you might be surprised to learn that it kills more people each year than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
The good news is that hunger is a solvable problem. This fall, you can become part of the solution by participating in FEED Supper.
It’s nearly impossible to read a blog these days without meeting one (or both) of two things: angry comments combining political opinion, opposite-group stereotyping, name-calling, and other invective or self-congratulations to the tune of “I’m glad we can have a civil conversation about this.”
Earlier this year, the PR firm Weber Shandwick reported that 70 percent of Americans think incivility has become a crisis—and that politicians, young people, the media, and the Internet are to blame.
54 percent believe the decline is going to continue. Perhaps they feel they have no control over the future—that politicians, young people, the media, and the Internet have wrenched the matter wholesale out of Joe Citizen’s hands. This sense of helplessness is telling: even if we assume most of the people participating in the study consider themselves to be decent folk, they evidently perceive that their concern for decency has no impact on the society around them. Is that a reasonable thing to believe?
1.A man with a knife made it across the lawn and into the White House on Friday night before being apprehended by a guard standing inside the door of North Portico. The Secret Service is launching a full review into how the incident happened. (via the Washington Post)
This fall I’ll begin the second year of my Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) program in fiction. Heading into my final year, I’ve noticed that I’ve picked up a few new sayings. Call it MFA slang, or a collection of terms and phrases used by writers talking to other writers about their writing. For example, a popular way to offer suggestion to a fellow classmate is to do so by means of negation: “Not to be prescriptive but [insert prescriptive suggestion].” Someone might describe a story as too “plotty” or praise good writing for being “understated and quiet.” A major buzzword in most workshop discussions is “stakes.” But I want to hone in on one particular piece of MFA slang.
It is often overwhelming to read the news, and particularly difficult to stay up on current events. Every morning the front page is packed with new information and ever-changing top stories. Conflict in Ukraine gave way to headlines on Israel and Gaza. Attention then focused on Ferguson, MO, and then scanned back out as the U.S. steps in to help fight ISIS.