Five Star's 309th Great Blog Roundup Is Brought to You By Teju Cole
This Five Star great blog roundup is brought to you by a thousand cuts, a wise father, rape and compassion fatigue, creative stumbling blocks, a Santa crush, the relationship to the self, death and peace and showing up, parenting black children in today's America, making gifts out of grief, and Teju Cole:
Happy Wednesday on this last Five Star roundup of 2014, and happy new year!
When I started at university, the elephant in the room became suddenly more militant, and the approaches to it more sly. Name calling and teasing were replaced with the more ambiguous “but I don’t see the colour of your skin”, “but you’re not like the others”, “but you’re different” refrain that tips a person of colour to the edge of madness. The back-handed compliment that insists on a throat-constricting thank you. Here, there be dragons of insanity.
He was good at telling stories — sometimes long-winded ones — that taught us to trust ourselves. He told stories that told us we were loved. Unconditionally. He taught us — all of us — what it meant to be a grown up.
One truth about rape crisis work, about all similar work, is that primary trauma leads many people to social service careers. For some of us, nothing else seems worth the effort. You are drawn to people who might speak your language. You are drawn to saving the world. This, of course, is a recipe for a special kind of burnout called “compassion fatigue.” 24/7 rape crisis work for a rape survivor is recipe for a trigger-unhappy life, but then again, so is the news. So is everyday life.
I count as close friends the talent-filled members of my online writing group… Their work astonishes me and leaves me breathless and I am honored to be among writers of their caliber.
But I feel like I’ve become a silent partner.
…there’s a lot about Sophie’s arrested development that I’ve come to adore. I love that she hugs and kisses me when I drop her off at junior high in the morning. She’s the only grandchild brave enough to climb on my curmudgeonly father’s lap, and tell him she loves him. I even love (most nights) that she demands entrance to my bed, snuggling up between Ray and me.
But my favorite is Santa.
I poured my father his last drink. Four fingers of scotch, ice, and a splash of water. I added three drops of liquid morphine. I made one for myself as well, same recipe. Richard Pryor had just passed away and it was late at night and my father was making me switch back and forth between CNN and The Weather Channel. I had tried to feed him some ice cream earlier and he spit it up and all over his beard and chest. As I was cleaning him off, he asked for the drink. Who am I to deny a dying man a drink? Who am I to tell my father no?
The problem is that a conciliatory practice of peaceableness can’t come into being in any rational way with things as they are, and we all know it, and none of us know what to do about this. So we end up with showdown after showdown, pleading with each other to listen, while demanding compliance and respect and public order and fatalism from those who get the least from the way things are.
I send them to the corner store, so they can get outside and I can have some quiet. $3 each. I wonder if they’ll be attacked walking down the street. Black people sometimes get attacked when white people are scared of the reality of race.
It’s easier to do something wrong and apologise than just flat-out know you're not allowed to do it.
And because you are a fan of finding good, new writing on the internet: