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First trip to the UK

Sheep in a very green field in Yorkshire with a hedge in the foreground

We finally took B to the UK for the first time after two forcibly cancelled visits. Just got back on Wednesday night quite late. We had plans pretty much every day we were there, which was pretty nuts, but we got to catch up with so many people.

There were a lot of firsts: B’s first birthday, B’s first steps, B’s first time meeting his cousins and so much other family, B’s first time on the moor, B’s first time in a carrier backpack, our first night away from B (a fancy dinner + hotel in the dales, we’ve never done something like that before), our second night away from B (we got to have a party! with lots of friends!), B’s first cake (and second and third… there was a lot of cake). B’s first time in over 90-degree weather. Would have expected that to be in Brooklyn, not the north of England…

And of course, B’s first transatlantic flights. All things considered, he did really, really well. He doesn’t like three-hour customs lines, but frankly, who does.

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How and why I stopped freelancing

A quick disclaimer: This is NOT an article about how to find a full-time job. There are a million posts about that online. And anyways, beyond the general advice1, I’m not sure how useful those articles usually are anyways. Every person’s path to a job is super different.

This is about the steps I took to make the transition from independent work to full-time employment as smooth as possible for my clients, my collaborators, my new employer, and most importantly myself. It’s also about the thought process behind that decision.

In many ways, this is all a long explanation of the feelings behind this earlier post.

It wasn’t without stress, but it worked out pretty well with a lot of prior planning and communication.


Wispy clouds against a blue sky

Before I go in to how, a little about why.

Read more

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Ursula K. Le Guin on menopause

Anyhow it seems a pity to have a built-in rite of passage and to dodge it, evade it, and pretend nothing has changed. That is to dodge and evade one’s womanhood, to pretend one’s like a man. Men, once initiated, never get the second chance. They never change again. That’s their loss, not ours. Why borrow poverty?

Ursula K. Le Guin on the menopause, from her essay “The Space Crone” in Dancing at the Edge of the World

This essay has maybe my favorite final line I’ve ever read.

“Into the space ship, Granny.”

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One person’s abortion story

So the SCOTUS struck down Roe v. Wade recently. Abortion rights are now up to the states. This is inhumane, in my opinion.

I have a lot more to say on it but lack both the time and the clarity of mind to articulate the injustice. In lieu of that, I wanted to record this post on LinkedIn, shared with me by Sam. I don’t love LinkedIn generally, but I think it is a hell of a brave place to share an abortion story.

Unfortunately, after an agonizing wait, both my blood tests and CVS (large needle to sample the placenta for abnormalities) confirmed a devastating chromosomal issue. If you have a strong constitution, feel free to look up Trisomy13 on Wikipedia. Median survival after birth is 12.5 days, and the prognosis is pretty awful beyond that. Neither my OB nor genetic counselor had ever had a patient continue with such a pregnancy, so I scheduled my termination.

There’s an important call out here. My life was NOT in danger. I simply cannot fathom being forced to have continued with this pregnancy, knowing all along that I would have to give birth to a child that would die. I would never judge someone else who chose that path, but the mental toll on me and my family – and the thought of suffering for the baby – it didn’t even register as a choice for me.

This is one person’s abortion story.

According to the report “Seeing the Unseen: The case for action in the neglected crisis of unintended pregnancy” by the United Nations Population Fund published this year, it is likely that nearly half of of all pregnancies worldwide are unintended.

Her story is one among billions.


Related point: There is nothing in the Constitution preventing discrimination on the basis of one’s sex. The Equal Rights Amendment would fix this. It has already been ratified by 38 states and passed by both the House and the Senate. One of the only things holding it back is a minor clause in the introduction that it should have been passed within seven years. In my opinion, and in many others’, major legislation like this should take a long time. Seven years is a ridiculous limitation.

If you live in the US, write to your senators now and urge them to dissolve the time limit for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. The House already did it in March of last year.

You can learn more about the Equal Rights Amendment on eracoalition.org.

Visit senate.gov to easily find your senators’ contact information.

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Hitting your creative stride in your 70s

Both Hokusai and Jack Butler Yeats hit their artistic strides in their 70s, their output just exploded at that point in their lives. How many other artists did the same? I can’t think of others, but surely many. Let me know.

Came across Yeats via this RHLSTP episode with Dara Ó Briain. Already knew about Hokusai but had no idea about the period of his life where he was most prolific, learned about that via this Great Art Explained episode.


Yes, almost immediately after posting this, Brian shared the book “On Late Style: Music and Literature Against the Grain” by Edward W. Said. Another one for the reading list!

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Against cynicism

I’ve had a post languishing for years in my drafts folder, return to it every once in a while but never feel like it’s quite right. For one thing it feels way too long. It’s about cynicism, about how I feel like it’s one of the most toxic, pervasive things both on a very personal level and also when you look at society as a whole. When I re-read it, it feels too preachy, or starry-eyed, or whatever.

Anyway, Nick Cave replied to a fan back in April this year about this very topic. He said it all way, way better than I ever could.

Read Issue #190 of The Red Hand Files

A quote from his letter:

Unlike cynicism, hopefulness is hard-earned, makes demands upon us, and can often feel like the most indefensible and lonely place on Earth. Hopefulness is not a neutral position either. It is adversarial. It is the warrior emotion that can lay waste to cynicism.

Accompanying his letter is a photo of an artwork by Philip Guston. Guston was a self-taught Canadian American representational painter. He often explored dark themes in his work, including himself and his own mental health issues, using primarily a limited monochrome and pinky-red palette in his later work. A lot of his paintings are almost cartoon-like except for the very rough linework. Klansmen feature heavily in some of his most famous paintings. He deemed these self-portraits. They aren’t explicitly violent per se, but they are menacing. They depict the banality of evil, how it lurks inside.

The figure in the piece that Nick Cave chose has a hood, but it has no pointed peak. They have a slightly pained expression (hard to figure out how Guston achieved that with such minimal brushwork) and are criss-crossed with dotted lines through their head and torso as if they have been sewn back together over and over. There is vivid red smeared on the hood, a head wound.

It’s a good image choice.

I can’t figure out where it is from, reverse image search turns up nothing. Maybe it’s a detail. I’ll keep searching.

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First trip to Michigan

A large, iridescent bubble with a faint reflection of a house floating in front of a leafy green tree

We took B to the cottage for the first time. The weather was a bit grey and cool, but it turns out we were lucky. A huge storm ripped through right after we left which took down a tree and made it impossible to reach, also knocked out the power for two days. Followed by temps in the 90s, and B hates heat like that. So it worked out!

Lots of sitting on Great-Grandpa’s bench swing, massive bubbles, sunsets, good food, playing with balls bigger than he is. And we got two afternoons at the beach on the lake. Turns out he absolutely loves cold water. He would crawl up to it, be shocked by a small wave, and then hastily crawl away laughing his head off. And repeat, for 30 minutes. The only things that would distract him was trying to eat pebbles, and shoveling sand into his mouth.

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The best first birthday present

If you live in the US and want to give B🌱 a great first birthday present, the perfect present, here’s what you can do.

Use the link below to find your congress members using your zip code (to find your full nine-digit zip code, visit usps.com):

https://www.congress.gov/members/find-your-member

Then use the contact links that show up and ask your congress members to enact a country-wide ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

It is such a basic, pragmatic step we could take to reduce deaths from these sorts of events.

There are many, many other factors that also contributed to this event, mental health chief among them, and those events absolutely need to be addressed. But had this 18 year old not been able to walk in to a shop on his birthday and buy such an incredibly high-powered weapon, more children and teachers would be alive. The event may not have happened at all. It is painfully, mind-numbingly simple.

When you’re done contacting your representatives and senators, tell your friends, colleagues, and family to do the same. Especially people that you think might be more conservative. You’d be surprised how many people agree about banning assault weapons. They just need a little encouragement to be vocal about it.

And then ask those people to do the exact same thing with everyone they know.

I am not looking forward to explaining what an active shooter drill is when B starts school.


This is a condensed version of the message I wrote to my representative and senators, in case it is useful.

There are many, many factors that contributed to the tragedy in Uvalde, mental health chief among them, and those events absolutely need to be addressed.

But banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines is the simplest and most pragmatic step we can take to avoid more death. It *must* be the priority.

Had this 18 year old not been able to walk in to a shop on his birthday and buy such an unnecessarily high-powered weapon, more children and teachers would be alive. The event may not have happened at all.

Please, I am begging you, do everything in your power to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Make the bill simple, inarguable, unavoidable, unassailable.

It is utterly shameful that Congress has not acted sooner. Make it happen.