The B.Y. Times: The Orthodox Jewish Answer to The Baby-Sitters Club

Despite being raised Jewish, I didn’t really know what a Reform Jew was until I got to college. I had always heard they were less religious, but the nuances were lost on me — I thought Reform Jews were basically just slacking off, like lapsed Catholics. My family must have been Reform, I had figured, because we went to a Orthodox temple but were clearly the least religious there. After going to NYU meeting kids from Westchester who’d grown up eating bacon cheeseburgers on Yom Kippur, I started to notice the differences. My family and I were Conservative Jews. We were just very bad ones.

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Children’s Stories Made Horrific: The Beauty And The Beast

Previously in this series: Love You Forever. Original text by Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont.

There was once a rich merchant, who had three daughters. Being a man of sense and careful daughter-husbandry, he kept them well, for he always made money on his investments. The girls were exceedingly handsome, particularly the youngest. When she was little everybody admired her, and called her “The little Beauty;” so that, as she grew up, she still went by the name of Beauty, which made her sisters very jealous.

She would answer to no other name. She did not know how to protect herself from the envy of others, which is to say she did not know how to survive. Instead she read books.

The two eldest had a great deal of pride, because they knew their own worth. because they were rich. They went out every day to parties of pleasure, balls, plays, concerts, and so forth, and they laughed at their youngest sister, and they made themselves happy. They answered to their given names.

All at once the merchant lost his whole fortune, excepting a small country house at a great distance from town, and told his children with tears in his eyes, they must go there and work for their living.

Beauty at first was sadly grieved at the loss of her fortune; but she had ever found that if she made herself smaller, life would trouble her less. Beauty rose at four in the morning, and made haste to have the house clean, and dinner ready for the family. No one paid her for it, and no one thanked her for it, either, and so gradually she ceased to think of it as work and began to think of it as her nature. She expected it from herself as others expected it of her, and who can be grateful for what is supposed to come naturally?

After she had done her work, she read. Reading was, as ever, her great comfort. And still she only answered to Beauty. Her reasons were her own.

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The Nine

Beginnings: I was born on a Tuesday. On the same day that the first of two cyclones in less than a month killed 35,000 in India. On the same day as the birth of Salvador Dali, whose twisted, surreal visions unsettle me.

First Memory: I watch as my sister and friend run down a hill, laughing, tumbling like kittens, while my feet were held solidly to the ground by metal braces.

Irony: The old rhyme says Tuesday’s child is full of grace.
Grace
a: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.
b: a special favor.
c: ease and suppleness of movement or bearing.

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“Ozten”: Emma for Australians

Previously in this series: “Ozten”: Pride and Prejudice for Australians

Emma Woodhouse, Ems, bright, skilled, with a happy disposition and a preoccupation with jam and her friends and the Great British Bake Off (and its offshoot, the Great Australian Bake Off, filmed in distant Melbourne). She loves knitting and amigurumi, which her great childhood friend Knightley regrets ever mentioning to her after he returned from a trip to Japan, and reaches 22 with a university degree in modern art and creative writing, and the vexing, tiny knowledge that she’s never won best jam outside of the under 15s at the Swan View Show.

MR WOODHOUSE: Your jam is bonza, little one.
EMMA: Yeah but … is it bonza enough?
EMMA: Ugh. Ever since you got it on with West, you’ve been joined at the hip.
MISS TAYLOR: Ems.
EMMA: It’s just not fair! You never have time to go snorkelling any more. And my jam is suffering without you!
MISS TAYLOR: You seriously need more friends.
EMMA: And more jam?
MISS TAYLOR: Yes, Ems. And more jam.

EMMA: So what is this farmer bloke’s deal?
HARRIET: Well he has his stall at the Leedee Farmers Market.
EMMA: Ooooh an artisan!
HARRIET: He sells mushrooms!
EMMA: Oh. Okay.
HARRIET: And he makes zines.
EMMA: Ooooh zines! What are his zines about?
HARRIET: Mostly mushrooms. And sometimes drawings of his ute.
EMMA: Oh. Okay don’t be offended but that is the daggiest thing I’ve ever heard.

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The Right Words to Say: On Being Read as White

When you meet me for the first time, you read me as if I were a book. Every idea you have about me and every word I say is part of that book.

When you look at me, you will think I am white. I already know this. When you shake my hand and meet me for the first time, you always already read me as white. You will hear me speak English without an accent and think I am white. You will hear or read my last name and think I am white. You read me wrong.

We all have crowded bookshelves in our heads crammed with texts for every person we know. They knock about in our skulls, falling off the shelves. We refer to them again and again, wearing the pages thin. When you read me wrong, everything that follows is askew.

I have strategies I use to tell you who I am. They have different rates of success, but I will employ them all whenever the situation allows. I mention my quinceañera. I tell the story of the first time my parents heard me speak English. I say words deliberately correctly in Spanish like guerrilla. I talk about Mexican music I like. I note that I am a bilingual Spanish speaker on my resume. I talk about Mexican movies I like. When I am with people, I answer phone calls from my mom and tell her I can’t talk, but I do it in Spanish. I keep her on the phone a little longer than I have to. Whenever the topic of family comes up, I say that most of mine lives in Mexico. I am prepared with these tactics when I have to tell you who I am, ready to fit them in between the pauses so that you might reread me. I’m better at it now than I used to be—I’ve been practicing a long time, figuring out the right words to say.

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Uncomfortable Attempts At Heterosexuality In Art History

kiss2

okay
okay i’m ready
let’s do this

kiss3

ah yes
this is how kissing goes
your whole face in my mouth, that’s what kissing is
now stop squirming so I can absorb your essence

kiss14

No
no
no
no, that’s quite all right

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Link Roundup!

The DOJ’s Ferguson report is just as horrible as it could possibly be, and I encourage you to follow Wesley Lowery’s Twitter timeline for the kind of intensive drill-down on individual excerpts you won’t get from news articles about it.

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URSULA K. LE GUIN GOES FOR IT:

Mr Ishiguro said to the interviewer, “Will readers follow me into this? Will they understand what I’m trying to do, or will they be prejudiced against the surface elements? Are they going to say this is fantasy?”

Well, yes, they probably will. Why not?

It appears that the author takes the word for an insult.

To me that is so insulting, it reflects such thoughtless prejudice, that I had to write this piece in response.

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