“An embodiment of the American Dream.” That’s how President Obama referred to the life of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Chronicled in her own words in My Beloved World, her life surely lives up to the claim. Far from dry, the autobiography provides feeling insights into the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice’s coming of age with veracity.
Raised in a Puerto Rican community in New York City, Sotomayor was the child of an alcoholic and a nurse, with strong ties to her paternal grandmother. Diagnosed with diabetes at 7, instability at home necessitated she learn to give herself insulin shots. As her father died a few years later and her mother lie prostrate with grief, Sotomayor threw herself into books and school. The precocious girl had made up her mind to become a lawyer, with television characters as her role models. By the age of 40, Sotomayor had graduated at the top of her class at Princeton, attended Yale Law School, was the Manhattan district attorney, and became a Supreme Court Justice. It’s a haughty feat for any person, much less someone who was far from privileged. Sotomayor’s biography stresses the importance of family and of self-determination. Never defensive or ashamed, the world was her oyster.
Guest Playlist // Marie Scarsella's Mellow Out Playlist
There will always be those days where life seems to get the best of you; you’re drained — mentally, physically, or maybe even both. Maybe you had a long day at work or that cute guy you’ve been crushing on was acting like a total jerk. I put together a playlist for days just like those, so get ready to curl up on the couch with a blanket and maybe a glass of wine, and just mellow out.
The Wait … Laura Stevenson - There’s something that is so relaxing about Laura Stevenson’s voice. It’s soft, it’s sweet, and it’s super elegant. This track is particularly mellowing; its guitars aren’t too strong, and it uses some bombastic tones without going overboard. It’s the perfect tune for snuggling under the covers.
The Willing Cuckold … Tim Kasher - If you only know of Tim Kasher from his work with emo legends Cursive, then you’re in for quite a surprise with “The Willing Cuckold.” It’s got a soft strumming pattern and Kasher’s voice is somewhat soothing. While it may be different than what some of you guys are used to from him, I might go as far as to say it’s one of my favorite songs he’s ever written.
Blue … First Aid Kit - There’s something about this song that’s just so pretty and charming. The lyrics may be a little depressing…okay, maybe very depressing, but it sounds so twinkly and sweet. It’s got a little bounce to it, but it still induces that comfy, cuddling kinda mood.
Anything We Want … Fiona Apple - Fiona Apple’s known to be a little crazy, but she seems to tone it down a little on this track. It’s still got some of that classic Fiona quirk, but it’s calm in comparison to what we usually see from her. Her voice is dreamy and smoky, and it sort of just whisks you away…
Marie Scarsella is a journalist from New York who doesn’t get much sleep. Her work has been featured on CMJ.com, and she is a regular over at Property of Zack. She likes writing about music and reading about weird world occurrences.
Every day we’re thankful for all of you — our readers, our contributors, our sponsors, our teachers, our critics, our mentors. We couldn’t do this without your support, patience, ideas, and advice. Thank you for (almost) 3 years of love and grace and power. We love you!
Mary Therese sat crossed-legged in the confessional, chewing on her pinky finger as she waited for the priest to come in. It was an old habit of hers, one she’d promised at least a dozen times since she’d turn fourteen to break, but so far hadn’t been able to.
“Hello, my child.” Mary Therese flinched, startled. It was dark in this little wood compartment, and she hadn’t noticed the priest entering on the other side.
She swallowed. “Hi, Father Amnon.”
“When was the last time you had Confession?”
“Um, about six months ago.”
“Tell me your sins.”
“Well, I’ve been talking back to my mother a lot lately, which I shouldn’t. And I tease my little sister. Sometimes I even make her cry, which I feel bad about afterwards.”
Mary Therese paused, long enough for Father Amnon to say, “Is that all?”
She took a deep breath. She had to say it. She had promised herself she would.
“No, there’s one more thing. I, um. Did some things. With a boy.”
As someone who alternately describes her style as “thrift store chic” and “quirky chic” (with more thrift store and quirk than chic), I’m always in and out of thrift stores and my favorite local vintage spots. There’s a wonderful sense of personal accomplishment that comes with scoring secret treasures from either. Shopping always leaves me giddy, but thrift and vintage shopping are a world apart from window shopping at Anthropologie or trying on the latest merch for my favorite shop girls at my favorite boutique. They’re easier on my credit card, for one, but also feel more adventurous, more personal. Even as “thrifted” and “vintage” styles have become a bit ubiquitous for us cool twenty-something girls, there’s a specialness to them and a unique wearability that gives any outfit, any personal style a little extra somethin’ somethin’.
So, here are a few tips for starting your own adventure!
1) Go in with an idea of what you’re looking for. When I go thrifting and vintage hunting, I usually make a day of it. This means treating myself to coffee and a vegan donut at a cozy little coffee shop while I pour over blogs and glossies before heading out. This way, I’m full of inspiration for what I want to wear (or who I want to be that day). Knowing what you want before you start will save you time and effort—and can keep you from getting overwhelmed. This can mean anything from taking a quick peek at a blog for a trend you want to follow, like Spring camo or chunky menswear-inspired shoes (two trends that I’m head over heels for, by the way), to taking a quick inventory of our closet to note what you’re missing. Are you ready to swap all those maxi skirts for midis?
Sometimes, I wonder if girlie mags aren’t out to sabotage us normal gals. We’ve all perused articles in issues of Cosmo or Allure or Glamour and asked, “Are they effing kidding?” (No one should ever twist and pull a penis simultaneously, Glamour!) Perhaps the most offenses belong in the category of dating. These magazines offer some outlandish advice on “how to land a man” and because I love you all and do not want you to fail, I’ve tried some of these approaches to report back on what works and what doesn’t.
1.Write Dating Business Cards: Write your name, number, and a one-liner on a sheet of paper (or bar napkin, let’s be real) and give it to a fellow.
Results: Pretty disastrous. Dubbed a “sure-fire way to get a man’s attention”, it gets their attention alright — in the absolute wrong way. In my attempts, I’ve had men crumple it, drop it on the floor in front of me, and straight up laugh in my face. No one thought I was confident or forward, the common consensus was that I was a weirdo. Also, engaging one-liners are hard to come up with. “Your face would look great between my legs,” is definitely not one you should try.
2. Perfect Your Come Hither Look: Drop your chin, tilt your head to the side, and look up from under your lashes.
Results: Failure. Remember that scene in House Bunny where the nerdy character attempts to flirt and the male asks if she has something in her eye? Yeah, my experience exactly. The whole head down/tilt move aggrandized the double chin and that subtle batting of the lashes just made my eyes water. This trick is supposed to make you appear approachable but in my case it just resembled a small seizure. Mainly, dudes just ignored me and my ridiculous facial contortions.
3. Engage in Guy Topics: Make small talk about sports, cars, and other guy-centric subjects.
Results: Sad. It makes sense to start a conversation over shared interests. But where this advice fails is in its assumption that I don’t have anything to say about sports or cars and in its assumption that that is all guys are interested in discussing. I tried this at two bars. I interrupted a conversation a fellow was having about the Dallas Stars to discuss a player who I didn’t realize was traded three years ago. Fail. I find it terrible to start a relationship on false pretenses like this. I’m not interested in sports except the San Antonio Spurs and I have no knowledge of cars except that mine totally sucks. Every guy knew I was desperately reaching for a topic of conversation and that I had no idea what I was talking about — so not hot.
4. Accidentally Bump Into a Hot Guy: Nudge a guy at the grocery store or at the park to get his attention.
Results: Painful. Bumping into someone does require you to engage in conversation right off the bat, as you obviously must apologize. But is that any way to make a first impression, as the clumsy girl who body-checked him? I hate the idea that my first words to a dude are, “Sorry, my bad.” The physical contact was more painful than intimate. Furthermore, my subtle bumps seemed to be more annoying to the fellas than anything else. One guy asked me point-blank, “Did you just do that on purpose?” Yes, yes I did. And it was dumb. Also, in the process a guy accidentally elbowed me right in the areola. Sad panda over here.
5. Play Dumb: Self-explanatory
Results: Mixed. Playing dumb works in some ways. Asking, “Do I know you?” or “Didn’t you play soccer at Mac?” when you know the answer is “No” is a good way to start a conversation. But pretending you know nothing about cameras when you’re a photographer just to make him feel like he has the upperhand is straight up dishonest. You’re selling yourself short by downplaying your intelligence and that’s never a good way to start a relationship. When a boy asked me if I watched basketball, I told him no and listened for 15 minutes while he explained the game to me. I tried to ask questions to keep the conversation going but they were pretty vapid. (I know b-ball like the back of my hand, yo.) In the end, I mainly looked like an idiot.
6. Show Me Your Moonwalk: At a bar or club, ask a fellow to show you his moonwalk.
Results: SUCCESS. I was skeptical of this maneuver. Not only is it ridiculous but Michael Jackson is dead for Pete’s sake — it almost seems outdated. And now some of the people in clubs were born in the freaking 90’s — do those kids even know what the moonwalk is? Still, several guys showed me their moonwalk. I might have shown mine a few times, too. If nothing else, it made these dudes actually talk to me. They seemed quizzical but intrigued by this random request. Above all, it made them laugh and feel comfortable talking to me. How apprehensive can you be around someone you showed your moonwalk to? Not apprehensive at all.
I’ve been thinking about the rape culture in our country. We all know the blame is usually placed on the victims rather than the perpetrators of the crime; and we have a tendency to charge women to prevent rape from happening to them.
Now, I’m all about women being in charge of their own destiny. I support a woman knowing that if someone tries to rape her that it’s not her fault regardless of whether she put herself in a vulnerable situation. A woman should also know that if someone attempts to rape her, she has every right to destroy that bastard; and she doesn’t necessarily need to rely on pepper-spray, guns, or another man to destroy that would-be-rapist. But that’s not how we charge women to protect themselves. We tell them not to go out alone at night, not to get apartments on the first floor or leave their windows open, to watch what they wear, what they say, wear they go, etc. And this isn’t empowering women; it’s repressing us.
Let’s take the example of “don’t go out alone at night.” Now before you argue that it’s common sense for women to travel in packs, let’s remember we never make that argument for men. Why? Because men don’t generally get raped walking alone at night. Except that women don’t generally get raped walking alone at night either. While it does happen, 66-90% of women are raped by people they know and sometimes trust.
HALLOWEEN IS HERE AGAIN! I don’t know about y’all but Halloween is hands down my favorite holiday! What could be better than dressing up and eating candy?! Maybe listening to some creepy Halloween music? I put together a little Halloween-themed playlist for a party I’m hosting tonight and thought I would share it with all of you!
Monsters … The Boy Least Likely To - This is my favorite Halloween song! (Let’s be real, I listen to it all year round.) It’s got all my favorite instruments: tambourine, glockenspiel, melodica, etc. Not only is it cutesy and precious, but it’s totally relatable for me at this time in my life! The song tells the story of a guy whose friends are all growing up and getting married and moving on with their lives while he’s left behind. “The thing that really frightens me is that all my friends from school are turning into monsters, picking patterns out for curtains, making friends with all the other monsters, pushing little baby monsters around the shops in prams.” (P.S. they’re British so they use words like ‘pram.’ Cute!)
Fake Palindromes … Andrew Bird - This isn’t the first song you think of when someone says “Halloween Music” but quite frankly it is the creepiest song on this list. I recently read an article dissecting the lyrics (which can be found here) and now I get goosebumps every time I listen to it. Phrases like “dewey-eyed Disney bride” paint a lovely picture of an innocent little girl but then all of a sudden Andrew Bird throws in things like, “She’s got an old death kit she’s been meaning to use” and, “She’s got blood in her eyes, in her eyes for you.” Then finally she says, “I’m gonna tie your wrists with leather and drill a tiny hole into your head.” EEP! I think I might be scarred for life.
This is Halloween … Nightmare Before Christmas, Time Warp … Rocky Horror Picture Show, Mad World … Gary Jules (Donnie Darko) - One of my Halloween traditions is to watch all my favorite Halloweenish movies. These are some of my favorite songs from those movies. This is Halloween and Time Warp are fun and interactive while Mad World is creepy and eerie in all the best ways. Other Halloween movies I adore: Hocus Pocus, Beetlejuice, and Edward Scissorhands.
In the Room Where you Sleep … Dead Man’s Bones - Dead Man’s Bones is a great Halloween band. They’re called Dead Man’s Bones for heaven’s sake! This song is super creepy; it’s got that old school organ and men’s voices talking in the background and all kinds of reverb. Plus it’s got lyrics like, “You better hide! There’s something in the shadows in the corner of your room.” SPOOKY! (On a non-Halloween note I also just like to think of Ryan Gosling — who’s in the band — being in the room where I sleep. Swoon. <3)
Here’s Judge Yeakel’s ruling for the #HB2 lawsuit! He agrees that the guideline requiring physicians to have admitting privileges is “without a rational basis and places a substantial obstacle” on those seeking abortions and he has struck down that provision. But he doesn’t feel that using outdated standards for RU486 also presents an obstacle. The 13-year-old protocols will require several trips to a clinic, presenting a substantial financial burden for those who don’t live near clinics, cannot easily take time off of work, cannot afford the pill regimen, etc.
To be perfectly honest, my own definition and perceptions of feminism are often flawed. And it’s okay if yours are, too! The important thing is that we’re working toward a better understanding of what it means to be a feminist and how we can be working collectively toward a community that supports all genders, races, sexualities, identities, etc. If you have a great feminist theorist whose work you look to for guidance, feel free to share! This afternoon I’m learning from Dig Deep: Beyond Lean In by bell hooks.
Three names have been popping up all around the country music scenes lately — three women who are the proclaimed new faces of country music. All three released brand new albums in March, but none of these ladies are really new to the scene. Caitlin Rose is the daughter of a Nashville big-shot songwriter with two albums under her belt. Ashley Monroe has also just released her second solo album, and has been a Nashville songwriter for years as well as being a member of the Pistol Annies with country superstar Miranda Lambert. And while Kacey Musgraves has only released one album, she’s written hit country singles for other artists and the television show Nashville. It doesn’t matter that they’re not “new,” though. What matters is that they’re making waves in a traditionally conservative genre — simultaneously exploring new territories and taking it back to the musical sensibilities that made country music so great decades ago. Oh, and not one of them is older than 26.
Country has gotten a bad rap over the past couple decades, because yeah, a lot of what you’d hear on the radio… isn’t so great. It sounds absolutely nothing like the traditional country from half a century ago. Further, it’s associated with the extremely conservative, Southern, Bible-totin’ crowd. I’ve always said that if you dig a little, you can find a lot of amazing country music, but we’re talking about the mainstream here. So what makes Kacey, Ashley, and Caitlin stand out? For all three, it’s a mixture of subject matter and musical styling.
I don’t quite understand why so many people are ashamed to be on OkCupid. It’s 2013, right? The majority of my social circle can be traced back to OkCupid, Tumblr, or Craigslist, and I keep up with my family largely through Facebook. Yes, it’s not that strange to get a date from the internet. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be incredibly awkward when the internet gets a little too up close and IRL.
Take, for example, the evening I realized I can never step foot in my preferred 7-11 ever again. “Ah, that looks like a lovely beard!” I thought to myself as I browsed through my Recent Visitors, stopping at a thumbnail of a fellow wearing a hat and sunglasses. I clicked on the profile and skimmed through. What I’m doing with my life: Currently I manage a store downtown. I clicked on the link to view the rest of his pictures. The second picture made it immediately clear who this was, and I recoiled in horror. This was worse than the time one of my coworkers viewed my profile. This was the manager of the 7-11 near my office. Now, this is no knock on his choice of occupation. This guy is so nice. He will actually make your convenience store experience pleasant while he’s trying to up-sell you into buying some egg rolls. I even heard him talking once about how they had improved their Yelp reviews from a half-star average to over three stars, and I can assure you it is because this man works there and he loves customer service.
Something I’ve found very interesting: the prosecution’s legal team is 9/10 women, the defense’s legal team is 10/11 men. Reproductive rights aren’t simply a women’s issue or a cis issue, but I really cannot get over those numbers.
If you wonder about why women seek abortions after 20 weeks or why doctors agree to perform them, I really recommend coming to watch After Tiller with Vagina, Whole Woman’s Health, and Cinema East this Sunday, October 20 in Austin.
The film will be a part of our Monthly Cycle film series with Whole Woman’s Health, aimed at helping to relieve the stigma surrounding abortion care and raising money for WWH’s Stigma Relief Fund.
Fall - my very favorite season - is finally here! October is a wonderful month — full of crisp air, caramel apples, (hard) cider, blankets, candles, and good music. I tend to slow things down a bit and listen to sadder, slower music in the fall, so this playlist is full of songs I’ve been listening to during this season for years.
Pa Pa Power … Dead Man’s Bones - Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields teamed up with a children’s choir in Silver Lake to make their haunting self-titled album. This song is my favorite track from that album; though I must confess, put a children’s choir in basically anything and I will play it on repeat.
Galaxies … Laura Veirs - Galaxies has been a go-to Fall jam of mine since its release in 2005. It’s a simple song with few lyrics, but they are beautiful and show a darling depiction of love. As someone who desperately wants to be a mermaid, I really appreciate the lyrics “when we dance, when we dance, eels and sea grass float on by” and the imagery they create.
Perpetuum Mobile … Penguin Cafe Orchestra - During Fall I like to spend a lot of time being still, reflecting, and meditating, which is probably why I am drawn to slower music than in other seasons. Lyrics tend to make or break songs for me and are a very important part of my interaction with the music, but when it starts getting chilly out I will often listen to songs that have no lyrics at all. There is something incredible about the emotional response songs like this tend to evoke in me. I love putting this track on to read or write or create something.
Sheets … Damien Jurado - Because I spend so much time being introspective and still during the Fall, I tend to be a bit more emotional. Sometimes you just need a good cry, ya know? This is one of my favorite songs to put on during one of those healthy cries. At its most basic level this song is about how nothing is black and white in relationships and how those we love have so much control over our emotions.
October has arrived! Here in Austin, my friends and I are struggling to to admit that Summer is over what with the high temperatures and the lack of changing leaves. But Summer is turning into Autumn and we’re in the midst of prepping our Fall ‘13 issue and the season is marching right along. Lately I’ve been feeling like I can’t quite keep up with these changes and this playlist is largely a reflection of that — most of the time I’m charging along and listening to high-energy, happy beats but some of the time I’m feeling overwhelmed and listening to slower, sadder songs that reflect that. So maybe don’t listen to this whole playlist in one sitting (that’d be quite a rollercoaster ride!), but pick a song and listen to it when that feels like the tune that best matches where you are in your transition.
Gypsy … Fleetwood Mac - This song always makes me nostalgic for simpler times and simpler romances and simpler problems. The thing is that it’s hard to know if those times/romances/problems really were simpler then or if I’ve grown so much that they seem small to me now. In a way, either option comforts me when I’m all wound up about the zine or my relationships or my job situation. If most of my problems don’t seem simple now, they will one day and in the meantime I need to take a big breath and just keep moving forward.
Robin … Tennis - At this point, it’s almost unusual for me to start my day without this song. It’s just so much fun to lip-sync and dance around to! Really, this whole album is wonderful and I can barely tell where one song ends and another begins because I just listen to them end-to-end. Close runner-up: “Vegas”
Candles … Daughter - I only recently discovered this trio after they came to town and my friends’ gushings rubbed off on me. I’m now in love with their two albums but it’s this particular song that I have on perpetual repeat. I can’t help but think that the lyric “just a young heart confusing my mind” is the best explanation I can give for how I feel these days. So much of my past year or two has been spent toeing the line between lover and friend, lover and partner, lover and stranger. Sometimes we face wolves to keep our sheets warm and sometimes we are the wolves. Tonra’s voice is beautiful and this song is haunting. I dare you to try and listen to it only once.
Honky Tonk Man … Dwight Yoakam - I may identify a little too closely with this song but let’s be real here — that’s impossible! I love to give the boys a whirl to the music of an ol’ jukebox. Just get me a cute boy (or two, or three), a honky tonk in the Hill Country, a two-stepping refresher course, and I’m good to go! I absolutely adore Dwight Yoakam and I’ve been listening to his Very Best Of album lately to console myself over choosing not to spend money on a ticket to his Austin show in November.
It’s Day 18, a Thursday. You’ve got two more pills in the little yellow circle to take. You’re late taking it again, you always tell yourself to take it when you first wake up—but often you forget until you’re in class, packed in with 300 other students and you’re still a little nervous about popping your birth control out right in the middle of a lecture on Marx’s Das Kapital. You’ll take it in between classes, you tell yourself. Six hours after telling yourself that, you suddenly remember that you in fact did NOT take it in between classes and instead decided to purchase a slice of pizza and call your mom.
Three days later and you’re now on the placebo part of your birth control pack. That’s fine, you tell yourself. You did well, you only forgot to take your pill once, and that was a few days ago…oh, and then that one time a couple of days before—but other than that, you took your pills on time. Maybe. Possibly. Wait…did you actually take the majority of your pills on time? What if you missed too many? You rack your brain, trying to remember what birth control actually does. It stops ovulation, right? Something like that. But what if you forgot to take it on the day you ovulated? What if the egg got through? What if that egg is currently hanging out in your uterus? You start to think about all of the sex you’ve had over the course of a month. You use a condom most of the time. Most of the time is good, right? You take a deep breath and successfully push it out of your mind. It’ll come, you tell yourself—it has to.