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Home: The Toast

I is deg.


Totes are up! Get ’em while they’re there! I wound up re-ordering both Ship AND Mermaid, because I have a soft heart. If you have emailed me about a freebie and heard back, you are getting one. If you have not heard back, you are on the (at press time, 25 person) waiting list, from which I will claw a name whenever I get a new donation to the bursary. I have also added 37 Spear totes back to the storefront, about to become a collector’s item!

Remember, if you are International and order a tote, shoot me an email if you don’t get a chance to place your email address in your order, since I’ll be mailing those totes out myself and either charging you more or refunding you slightly (everything is coming to you the slowest and cheapest way possible.)

Freebies will be in the mail on Thursday!


The Turkish airport attack:

At least 28 people have been killed and 60 injured in an attack by three suicide bombers on Turkey’s largest airport, Istanbul Atatürk, according to senior officials.

Vasip Şahin, the governor of Istanbul province told the NTV news channel that 28 people had died, and said that authorities believe three suicide bombers were involved, because there were three separate explosions.

Another Turkish official told the Guardian that the suspects blew themselves up outside the security checkpoint at the entry to the international terminal, after police opened fire on them.


Corbyn is not out (unless he resigned overnight, which he may have done, I was asleep.)


This story made me INCENSED on the writer’s behalf:

I immediately emailed my editor. “I really do not feel comfortable with my book being called a memoir,” I told her. “I think calling it a memoir trivializes my reporting.” Memoir, after all, suggests memories—the unresolved issues of the past, examined through the author’s own experiences. My work, though literary and at times personal, was a narrative account of investigative reporting. I wasn’t simply trying to convey how I saw the world; I was reporting how it was seen and lived by others.

My editor would not budge. She noted that my book was written in the first person—a device I had employed, like many journalists, to provide a narrative framework for my reporting. To call it journalism, she argued, would limit its potential readership. I did not quite understand then that this was a sales decision. I later learned that memoirs in general sell better than investigative journalism.

I tried to push back. “This is no Eat, Pray, Love,” I argued during a phone call with my editor and agent.

“You only wish,” my agent laughed.

But that was the whole point. I did not wish that my book were Eat, Pray, Love. As the only journalist to live undercover in North Korea, I had risked imprisonment to tell a story of international importance by the only means possible. By casting my book as personal rather than professional—by marketing me as a woman on a journey of self-discovery, rather than a reporter on a groundbreaking assignment—I was effectively being stripped of my expertise on the subject I knew best. It was a subtle shift, but one familiar to professional women from all walks of life. I was being moved from a position of authority—What do you know?—to the realm of emotion:How did you feel?

It soon became clear that this was a battle I could not win, and I relented. The content of my work was what really mattered, I told myself. However it was labeled and marketed, my reporting would speak for itself.


Sulagna is selling If Oscar Isaac Were Your Boyfriend, the zine!


If you have a few extra dollars, this Friend of a Toastie is struggling with the costs of her daughter’s recent surgery, and I would love it if you showed her your care.


gooooood gravy, you are not Norma Rae, you do not lobby to have the dress code changed during an INTERNSHIP, what were you thinking:

I was able to get a summer internship at a company that does work in the industry I want to work in after I graduate. Even though the division I was hired to work in doesn’t deal with clients or customers, there still was a very strict dress code. I felt the dress code was overly strict but I wasn’t going to say anything, until I noticed one of the workers always wore flat shoes that were made from a fabric other than leather, or running shoes, even though both of these things were contrary to the dress code.

I spoke with my manager about being allowed some leeway under the dress code and was told this was not possible, despite the other person being allowed to do it. I soon found out that many of the other interns felt the same way, and the ones who asked their managers about it were told the same thing as me. We decided to write a proposal stating why we should be allowed someone leeway under the dress code. We accompanied the proposal with a petition, signed by all of the interns (except for one who declined to sign it) and gave it to our managers to consider. Our proposal requested that we also be allowed to wear running shoes and non leather flats, as well as sandals (not flip-flops though) and other non-dress shoes that would fit under a more business casual dress code. It was mostly about the footwear, but we also incorporated a request that we not have to wear suits and/or blazers in favor of a more casual, but still professional dress code.


RIP, Pat Summitt


Within the gay Mormon community:

Garett Smith sits in Kyle Cranney’s lap, laughing and clapping, as Drag Donald Trump emcees at the Fire House Bar & Grill. We’re at a drag-show charity event in St. George, Utah, to raise money for the cancer treatment of the mother of a gay man in the community, and the Fire House is one of the few venues in town that hosts LGBT events.

“Put your hands together if you’re Mormon,” Drag Donald shouts. “Do we clap?” Garrett asks. Their letters of resignation from the Mormon church had been submitted five months earlier; soon after, they received confirmation from the Church that their names had been removed from the membership records. Kyle shrugs and they both put their hands together.

Linda Stay, their close friend and future wedding officiate, walks over and gives both men large hugs. She’s a “mama dragon,” a term the Mormon community uses to describe mothers who fiercely advocate for gay rights. “I think every gay Mormon child wishes for a mom like that,” Garett says wistfully.



The Legend of Dope Lake:

From the air, the debris trail of the downed Howard 500 stretched three-quarters of a mile and pointed like an arrow toward Lower Merced Pass Lake. Covered in ice and a modest dusting of snow, the lake was a bald patch in an undulating white landscape. Stripped of one wing and most of its tail, which came off in the trees, the plane’s fuselage had cartwheeled through the ice. More than a month had passed since the December crash, and the lake had frozen over, entombing the plane — and anyone who was onboard. Several burlap sacks lay strewn along the shoreline. Some of the sacks had ripped open on impact, leaving a chunky vegetal trail in the snow.

Since the plane was on Park Service land, Yosemite’s Office of  Law Enforcement coordinated the investigation. A well-coiffed regimental ranger named Lee Shackelton took the lead, ordering his rangers to fan out alongside gun-toting Customs agents to gather marijuana and pile it near the chopper landing site on the frozen lake. A few bales stuck out of the ice like decaying stumps. The total haul was close to 2,000 pounds. Representatives from Customs and the DEA helped catalog the evidence.

“It became a recovery of drudgery because we used chainsaws to cut out these bales of marijuana, which were frozen,” remembers Setnicka. “They’re heavy, they’re broken apart, they’re wet. The chainsaws were cutting ice, you know, so the chainsaw blades don’t last long. The most obvious ones we cut out, and then we had to fly this marijuana back.”


A tribute to the glorious Sue on VEEP (spoilers for the season finale, head’s up):

Sue is funny, but she’s not the funniest character on Veep because she does not have time for jokes. (Also, extreme competency tends to be less amusing than, say, watching Mike McClintock nearly pass out during a press conference because he’s on a juice cleanse.) She doesn’t get as much screen time as many of the others, either, because Sue is busy making sure the entire Selina Meyer operation doesn’t collapse in on itself, while rarely trying to take credit for all that she does.

If you’ve ever worked in an office, you have probably worked with a Sue and you probably have not thanked her to the extent she deserves. She’s the office manager who makes sure there’s always ink in the printer. She’s the receptionist who answers a million simultaneously ringing phone lines while keeping her vocal inflections bright and her smile cranked to eleven. She’s the personal assistant who keeps her boss’s schedule straight and all superfluous meetings blocked from the Google calendar. She’s the administrative assistant or the HR rep or the payroll department employee who makes sure everybody gets paid, submits their health insurance forms, and keeps the office expenses in order. Nine times out of ten, she’s a woman. And while all of her colleagues Tasmanian devil their way through each day, trying to put out fires with bottomless buckets, the Sues keep calm, carry on, privately shake their heads at all the foolishness swirling around them, and remember to use all their allotted vacation days. Sues work hard, but they value their down time because their priorities are stacked up exactly the way they should be.


the maze of medical debt:

There were rules in charging patients for emergencies, unique explanations for one billing code instead of another. If someone was discharged from an inpatient floor, she might find a toothbrush marked eight dollars, an IV bag marked twenty-five. In the emergency department, we assigned a level based on the type and duration of care, rather than itemizing each treatment individually, a complex algorithm based on many factors, but usually distilled into a few questions: Was the patient treated on the trauma or medical side of the ER? Sutures or no sutures? Cardiac workups? EKGs? Each level had its own exacting specifications, a way of making sense—at least financial sense—of the labyrinthine mess of billing. There was a surcharge for the physician (it was cheaper if they saw the physician assistant instead), and assorted charges for interventions, for the trappings of emergency—bandages, braces, Orthoglass for splinting. There was an expectation that you moved as quickly as you could. Hopefully you did not commit any errors along the way.


please don’t, you do not have to see her but you most certainly should not ask her to lie about being your niece, that is so hurtful:

When I was young I was married briefly. I did not want children, and thought I’d made that clear to my husband. I accidentally got pregnant, and he was thrilled. Against my better judgment I had the baby, with the understanding that he would take care of it. I did not like motherhood and when the girl was 2 years old, I divorced her father and moved out of state. I paid court-ordered child support until she turned 18. I had thought that was the end of my interaction with her, but I recently got a letter from her saying she would like to meet. She suggested a visit to my current town.

From the tone of her letter it seems as if she simply wants medical information, which seems acceptable. I would not mind meeting her briefly to tell her things of that nature. Nobody in my current circle knows I have a child, and I would prefer it to remain that way to hold off gossip. When the young woman visits I intend to introduce her as a niece. I believe that would be an acceptable alternative to telling an unfortunate truth. I believe she would accept this. What do you think?


Annalisa Quinn’s NPR tribute to The Toast completely unravelled me, and I feel very honoured and understood by it:

The Toast appealed to our most interesting selves — bookish, queer, into medieval art or Shakespeare, anti-pretentious, shamelessly emotional. The Toast bet that its readership was smart, and that weird passions, beautifully presented, were just as relatable as the trilling, manic prose of women’s magazines.

Reading often involves twisting yourself into registers not quite natural for you — and that is a good thing, and part of why reading supports empathy and imagination. But, for me, in the Toast, I had the wild and improbable luxury of finding something that felt written just for me, something devoted to my precise personal interests and tastes: witches, essays about identity and race and gender and sexuality, jokes about classic literature, pre-Raphaelite paintings of women looking bored, “Grumpy Hermits I Would Like To Cuddle In Art History,” etc. That deep specificity explains, too, the fierce, specialized devotion of the commenter community. The loving, supportive, collaborative nature of the comments section was such that one regular commenter gave another a kidney, and commenters helped another leave an emotionally abusive marriage.


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