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TBT: Absurdist Theme Parties

2020 has been a disruptive year that has forced us to think of new and creative ways to have fun and celebrate holidays and milestones with others. I am stoked about the distribution of coronavirus vaccines that will, I hope, set us free to mingle in real shared spaces again, but I've also enjoyed witnessing the shakeup of assumptions about how we have to share traditions and joys and sorrows with our friends and loved ones. I hope we don't ever forget how we were able to adapt to adversity and even turn our "prisons" into "playgrounds." During the last national crisis, the Great Recession, my friends and I came up with lots of creative and whimsical ways to recreate simply because we couldn't afford private jets and bottle service. Or even going out to eat every weekend. One way we had big fun on a smol budget was to throw absurdist theme parties. You don't have to be fancy if you can be funny. The aughts contained a lot of silly variations on 1980

TBT: Queering Poverty, Part II

Continued from " Queering Poverty, Part I ," written in the 2000s when I was in my 20s and most of my income went to paying interest on student loans and I lived in a gross, dangerous slum and also had some really good times that are fun to look back on. Having a bit of fun within a generally frugal life isn't just mental health survival self-care, it's also an investment in future joy. Happy memories can serve as a delightful escape to get through tough or boring times like, say, a dumpster fire of a pandemic. And now, in December 2020, we finally have access not just to our past memories of partying but to some tentative future plans! As we await the imminent distribution of coronavirus vaccines, we can finally dare to dream about the rockin' good times we'll have out in public sometime within the next year! Soon, we can stop dressing up "just for ourselves" or just to take a photo at home to post on the internet--which was always an enjoyable prel

TBT: Queering Poverty, Part I

"If you can't hide it, decorate it!" This quote and album title by entertainer Ruth Crews applies to a lot of things, and in the post below from my slum-living years, I demonstrate that poverty can be one of those things. Sometimes it is a relief to make light of a terrible situation you're trapped in by taking a little holiday from your reality. You can get there with substances, but it's much better to avoid any kind of escapism that might trick you into a long-term commitment. At the risk of sounding like a DARE educator, you can "use" nothing but playful creativity and whatever leisure time you can scrape together to find a formal event you can crash or create and play adult dress-up. You can do this in a pandemic, too, by having a kiki with only the people who live with you (bonus points if your roommates are all cats) or on a video chat (bonus points if you can use ridiculous filters on your face).  For inspiration, consider investing in the new bo

TBT: How the Patriarchy Infantilizes Men; or, Notes on Arthur Miller's Notes on The Bicycle Thief

I finally got around to reading Min Jin Lee's family saga novel Pachinko , and it reminded me just how far patriarchy extends around the world as well as how far back it goes in time. In the scheme of human evolution, the dominance of patriarchy is new and unusual, but for us individual humans with lifespans that max out in about a century or less, patriarchy has come to feel like human nature. That's unfortunate, especially for men. The patriarchy works to transform most people into slobbering, dumb dogs trained to lie submissively at the feet of kings and oligarch masters, and ordinary men suffer the worst of that burden. While women are at least free to build resilience in the face of their oppression, men are tricked into believing that the skills that build true inner strength are for girls, which ironically makes them fragile, infantile, and dependent upon the constant approval and support of an employer. In many White and Asian cultures, in particular, men are taught tha

$Monday: Bog Witch Style on a Budget

Autumn in a pandemic is the perfect time to tap into your inner bog witch with wild hair, cozy clothes, forest rituals, creepy cats, fire, books of spells, and Dark Cottagecore home decor mood boards on Pinterest . You don't have to live in a literal swamp. The word "bog" comes from a Gaelic term for "soft," and it sounds nearly identical to Slavic words for gods or divinity with Proto-Slavic roots that refer to earthly fortune. Bog witches burrow into the true goodness of life nestled beneath all the hustle and polish and show of making a living. They focus on soft wealth and spiritual power. The vibe is slow, earthy, comfy, moody, sneakily seductive, maybe sticky, wise rather than smart, preferring old things to new, charming rather than impressive. It's about harmonizing with the natural environment, blending, melting, enveloping, and sinking into earthy, downward energy. Bog witchery vibes with hygge, friluftsliv , and the indigenous earth wisdom of whe

TBT: Song of the Apartment

Leading up to the Great Recession, from 2006 - 2008, my husband and I lived in a cheap downtown Lansing apartment. While we don't miss the apartment itself, we do have some fond memories of our time there. Yet looking back from where I sit now (a cheap house in an affordable, diverse, beautiful, and comfortable suburb), I realize that living in a low-income apartment can be a much more healthy, safe, and dignified experience in a community that cares more about its poorest residents. By "cares" I'm not talking about feelings so much as actions and physical realities. I mean municipal-level design, planning, and implementation of social services that raise the tide and lift all the boats. In a more humanely run community, people of humble means don't have to choose between laughing or crying at all the drama in their own lives and their neighbors' lives created by untreated mental health and substance abuse struggles and lack of access to basic needs. There is

TBT: Day Tripping for Safer Recreation

My husband and I have been accustomed to swapping some of our traditional vacations for staycations and short day trips since the Great Recession, back when finances were the only big concern with travel. Now that there's a pandemic, the added stresses of masking, sanitizing, social distancing, and avoiding public restrooms have shrunk our comfort zone even further. This year, the longest we've driven to a swimming destination is 30 minutes so that we don't have to share vehicles or restrooms with anyone. We choose a less busy time, pack our own water and snacks, find a secluded spot, and don't stay too long. Relaxing at breezy, open waterfronts has been one of the safest and most pleasurable ways to get away from the daily grind during this pandemic, and it's no wonder many of us have been drawn to the cleansing serenity of a sandy beach. This year, sadly, I have to bring up water safety on top of Covid safety. Great Lakes currents are deadly, and they've alre