If you are a regular reader of my website, you'll have read mentions of a podcast I like called Still Processing. At the beginning of each episode, hosts Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris dish on the cultural items that have been on each of their minds that week. Movies, news, songs, artists, cultural happenings, etc. I feel the wisdom of their habit today.
Right now, I sit in my apartment in El Barrio, New York and have so many things going on in my head it is stirring up restless energy and I don't quite know what to do with it all. So, get ready readers--this post is going to be a fun ride of here, there, and everywhere.
First, what's up with the looming nuclear war? I know we had the Cuban Missile Crisis once upon a time, so a certain level of wisdom might say, "Cool it, kids. No need to panic, we've been here before." But the difference is (albeit, there are plenty of differences but this is the main one I'm thinking about) is during that crisis, we had John F. Kennedy as our president. Now, we have Donald Trump. You know why he's orange? Because he is so devoid of the ability to remain cool and calm and wise, his random acts of rage and impulsiveness fester into a boiled, tangy tone.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” he says in response to North Korea something or other (reports I've read explicitly say they are not certain what prompted the response from Trump). This is the response from the President of the United States. Gee, I feel confident in his abilities.
It seems cliché, but the Robert Frost poem comes to mind:
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire,
I hold with those who favor fire...
The cliché continues when I start thinking about life and what I might regret if the world does indeed come to a nuclear world war. I've long struggled with the "inspirational" quotes that in essence ask you what you would be doing if you only had one day to live and tell you to do that thing. If I really had only one day to live, I wouldn't go to work or school or watch Parks and Recreation. I'd probably high-tail it to Siena or someplace. But, the reality is, if you lived as if it were your last day, you wouldn't get anything done. You'd have no money and probably no friends. You certainly wouldn't be the world's best baker.
The Deseret News published an article (more like a recap of something else--it literally involved zero reporting skill) about a former LDS missionary who wrote something entitled 10 Habits that Will Change Boys Into Men. If you click on the link to the original source, you will find 10 questionable assertions about what makes a boy a man in this modern age. It describes some of the hurdles and hardships young men have these days.
There are a couple of problems. First, this is not reporting by the Deseret News. A well-rounded report of this topic would include interviews from experts or the guy who wrote the original post or other people in the community. This is just regurgitating information, like an essay in 7th grade English class. This newspaper has such a strong presence in Salt Lake City, I become irate when I see their lackluster reporting. Be better, Des News.
Second, young men would have an easier time of it if they and society at large could let go of prescribed gender roles. Women don't deserve "increased equality." That doesn't make sense--it's equality, or it's inequality. Sure, there can be progression, but the author's language is borderline justifying repression.
Further, he says, "Although it is not a popular notion, boys and girls are wired differently." Where's the emoji for pfffffttthhhtt. Men and women are not wired differently in the brain. The male/female brain dichotomy is a myth based in pseudo-science. It is common for people to conflate biology with socialization. Just because boys and men have been socialized to think they learn by being challenged while girls learn by being praised, doesn't mean it is true. For instance, I have terrible handwriting. Sometimes even I can't read it if it's been a while since I wrote it. And, if I'm not challenged I get really bored and then my demons come out to play.
I had a professor in my undergrad who taught evolution. He once explained that if he could come up with an example of something conclusively contradicting a claim, that claim is invalid (I think he was talking about the evolution of eyeballs...). So, while there are plenty of girls with neat handwriting who learn under praise, and plenty of boys who learn best by being challenged, that I exist and contradict this dude's bogus claim busts his hypothesis wide open--it's simply wrong. And I'm obviously not the only one. His claim is ridiculous in the first place.
All this is not to disregard the social, economic, emotional, etc. troubles young men face today. Of course they have troubles. But it isn't prescribed gender roles that will fix that--it's the opposite. As I like to say, you can keep your gender roles, I'll take the equality pie. Men benefit from equality and feminism.
And this is also not to completely disregard everything he said. Exercise, meditation, living beyond yourself. These are things I can totally get behind. But even in under the headings that seem promising, he manages to skew it to a weird, damaging direction.
I'm not into it.
Lastly, I really need to improve my Spanish skills. I haven't focused on it because I know a little French and a little Italian, and would like to invest more in that which I've already invested. But, I live in East Harlem now. Also known as Spanish Harlem, or El Barrio. I don't know the neighborhood well yet (I've only been here a week), but it is a beautiful mingling of Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban, Asian, African, Italian cultures. I walk down the streets and have no idea what's going on because most people outside speak Spanish. I went into a shop today called Mi Barrio to buy some grapes to go with the Nutella my mom sent me. Mi Barrio is primarily produce, cheese, meat (and when I say meat I mean everything from chicken legs to pig feet to things I couldn't identify). The shopkeeper initially spoke to me in Spanish, but I couldn't understand and didn't know how to reply.
When I worked at a cookie bakery in Salt Lake, the lovely dough ladies would try to teach me Spanish. I don't know why, but that language has a hard time sticking in my brain--and when I do speak it it tends to come out in an Italian accent. Nonetheless, I will hit Duolingo so I can try to understand my new neighborhood better.
And that's about it. My restless energy is winding down so I think I'll go enjoy some of those grapes with Nutella. Happy Tuesday!