Category: What to Read

Who are you with?

 

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It takes a lot to get me to quit procrastinating… That explains why I haven’t blogged in over a year. So what was it that finally kicked my butt back into gear? Any guesses?

If you said the disgusting, misogynistic, xenophobic racist Donald Trump, give yourself a star! I’ve been thinking about what future, 70 year old Lauren will tell her grandkids about the year 2016, and I don’t want it to be that I stayed quiet while people I cared about voted for a man who will surely have a place in our history books in the chapter on narcissistic sociopaths with a penchant for sexual violence.

There are so many reasons not to vote for Donald Trump, that I can’t begin to list them all. But, I’ll make an attempt. If you weren’t swayed by his xenophobic attitude towards Muslims and Mexicans, or his racist history of denying apartments to black applicants and railroading the innocent Central Park Five, I’m disappointed. If you didn’t budge after you heard the way he talks to and about women, I’m disappointed. If you weren’t convinced by his confession that he has sexually assaulted women, and the many reports that he, in fact, has, I’m disgusted. And even if you ignored everything he said up until the point he advocated grabbing women by the genitals because you realized that you have women in your life that you love, or that you’re a woman yourself, and finally disavowed him, I’m still pretty upset with you. And, as an important aside – has the man articulated any practical policy plans? A country is not a business, despite what that shady businessman would like you to think.

Here’s the thing… so many people are framing this election as a “lesser of two evils” situation. Both candidates are terrible, they say. So they’ll either choose the less terrible one, or throw a vote away on a third party candidate. I’m not sure if this attitude is ignorance, sexism, or an unwillingness to change party affiliation, but it’s simply untrue. Hillary Clinton is an imperfect person, but she is well-qualified to be our president. She’s spent the majority of her life as public servant, which I’m inclined to believe she did in the interest of the public good. There are many other lucrative paths a woman with her education and intelligence could have chosen, let’s not pretend she’s selfish for spending a lifetime in the public sector. Because she has spent her life in the public eye, we are aware of the mistakes she has made. We are also well aware of the good she has done, as a lifelong advocate for women, children, and families. Hillary knows how our political system works, and she has the connections and know-how to enact real political change. Let’s not pretend that a candidate with no political experience could get anything done in the House or Senate.

Although Hillary’s campaign has purposely avoided focusing on this point, I can’t neglect to mention that having a female president will improve the lives of women and girls for generations to come, until men and women truly are equal. Even if you refuse to recognize sexism in your own country, you know that women are not treated equally around the world. If the most powerful nation in the world elects a woman as our leader, what kind of message will that send to countries who treat women as second-class citizens, or worse?

I spent some time at the start of of the school year teaching my students about empathy. We communicate through screens so often, now, that I worry empathy is going out of style. People who are still willing to vote for Trump after everything he has said and done may need a refresher course: empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s position and recognize their experience as their truth, even if you don’t agree with it. Instead of saying, “Racism doesn’t exist in America,” or “Men and women are already equal,” or “Undocumented immigrants are cheating the system,” how about trying an empathetic response? Do you experience racism directed at you? I’m a white woman in America, so I don’t, but I understand that some people in our country do. We need a president who recognizes that racism is alive and well in America, and that we need to work together to end it. That’s enough to secure my vote for Hillary. Do you experience sexism in any aspect of your life? I’m a woman in America, so I do. And I recognize that some women have had experiences much worse than mine. We need a president who understands the danger that sexist rhetoric creates for women. That’s enough to secure my vote for Hillary. Am I an undocumented immigrant? No, but my grandfather came to America from Ireland through Ellis Island. He moved here for the opportunity this country provides, and I’d like to think that those who come to this country illegally, risking their life and freedom and leaving their families behind, do so for the same reason as my grandfather. We need a president who recognizes the humanity in all humans. That’s enough to secure my vote for Hillary.

Your responsibility as an American citizen is to vote. Vote for the candidate who will do the most good for the most people – Hillary Clinton. If you don’t like her, I don’t care. Put on your big kid pants, scrounge up whatever empathy you can muster, and drag your butt to the polls on November 8th. Or, if you’re still voting for Trump, November 28th.

(Image of Hillary Clinton via Flickr.)

What are your plans for the weekend?

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Happy Friday!  My week’s been a quick one.  I came back from a fun weekend trip to Houston with my sister on Monday evening, and since then I’ve been catching up on sleep and a long to-do list.

Houston’s a massive city with more to do than we ever could’ve accomplished in four days, but my sister and I managed to get a lot done.

We hit up the Museum of Fine Arts which had the coolest shape-shifting shadow exhibit:

Shadow puppets and more, today on laurenmcdonough.com 🐺

A post shared by Life of La (@lifeoflablog) on

 

We found the best Mexican food ever (we knew we were in the right place when handmade tortillas were flying through the air right by the front door):

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And we stumbled upon a fabulous local brewery (where $12 gets you three craft beers… unheard of, right?)

 

It was such a nice break from routine, and a great chance to spend some time with one of my best friends.

Tonight I’m headed to the Sox game with family and friends – I wouldn’t even call myself a fair-weather fan, I’m really in it for the social aspect (people-watching and overpriced beers).  And tomorrow I’m excited to catch up with some friends from high school.

What’s on your schedule?

P.S. Here are a few of my favorite things from around the web this week:

The trailer for Caitlyn Jenner’s new docu-series, “I Am Cait.”

Ed Sheehan’s take on “Trap Queen” (a must-watch).

Cooking tips from your favorite celebrity chefs.

I’m almost done with this beach read, reminds me a lot of Gone Girl (which is the only instance I can remember when I liked a movie better than the book!)

Love this advice: “forget about likability.”

 

 

What have you been up to?

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It’s been a while since I last posted, and things are looking different around here.  The leaves are changing, so it’s the 1% of the year when it’s actually pleasant to live in New England, I’ve painted my room so I feel like a productive adult, and I’ve settled into life as a non-college student.  What does that make me?  A real person?

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve missed me and I’m happy to fill you in on what I’ve been up to lately.  Besides job-searching (which is hard!) and substitute teaching (which is fun!) here’s what’s happening in the Life of La: (more…)

What’s your favorite piece of advice?

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I’m great at giving advice, but I’m not so good at receiving it.  (That’s really just a more tactful way of saying that I’m good at being critical of others but I whine and complain when others criticize me.)  As I near the end of my senior year, I’ve become less and less welcoming towards advice, as my adult life looms and my plans remain uncertain.  I’d love to share a piece of advice that I actually did appreciate with the hope that anyone feeling a bit anxious about where they’re headed in life can take it to heart the way that I did.

This fall, Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz visited my college and spoke about the craft of being a writer.  I spent half of his talk loudly laughing at his dry wit and the other half wildly scribbling down anything he said that sounded useful to me as a writer (this was a difficult task as he was a fountain of knowledge).

One point in specific stuck in my mind, though, and I’ve been coming back to it as I near graduation and face a daily deluge of questions about my future plans. (more…)

What do you do to center yourself?

Maybe “centering yourself” is a little too new-agey for what I’m talking about, but I think its crucial to have some calming practices to turn to when life gets stressful.  I wish I could say that I’m someone who goes for a run (I can’t make it down the block) or does yoga (I hate to sweat) or even meditates (my attention span seems to shorten every year), but I’m not.  I’m more likely to vent to a friend or flip on a tear-jerker when I need an emotional release.  I’d apologize for sounding like a walking (or crying) stereotype, but I’m being honest, and I’m willing to bet that a lot of my readers can relate.  I’m of the opinion that nothing good comes of stifling one’s emotions, which can make living with me a bit overwhelming at times.

So, I’m happy to share with my roommates, my family, my friends, my readers, and the internet at large, a wonderful suggestion from (more…)

I’m excited to read…

B.J. Novak’s new book!  He recently released a collection of short stories called One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories.  Check out his hilarious promotional video featuring one of my favorite television writers and actresses, Mindy Kaling:

The pair worked on The Office together and have an on-again off-again relationship but a permanent best-friend-ship, so they’re great fun to watch together.

Catch Mindy on her show The Mindy Project!  The series doesn’t return until April so you have a couple of months to get caught up.

Why should you read (and write) short stories?

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Short stories take a lot of heat as a literary form.  Infrequent readers of fiction might find them to be an “easy way out” of writing something longer or complain that a story’s brief plot line would be better if it were extended into a novel. As far as good short stories go, this isn’t the case.

In writing short stories, the first challenge is to give the reader a complete story (although some details may be left ambiguous as a creative choice) in a brief format.  I guess that’s pretty obvious from the name, though.  The second challenge is to use brevity to one’s advantage and control what’s left unsaid.  The best short stories I’ve read have left me with more questions than answers at the end.  They haven’t told me what to think, yet I still take away a message.  I’ve connected more to characters who appear for a single scene in a short story than to characters around whom an entire novel is based.

Check out a few of my favorite stories and collections after the jump: (more…)