Also Happy Lunar New Year!
 
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Janice Chang for BuzzFeed News

Last month, I wrote about how my New Year’s resolutions have already gone to shit, but it’s okay because everything feels like it’s falling apart so we should find joy where we can. Boy, did I underestimate how much worse things could get! (That’s not even accounting for the multiple racist shit shows we’ve experienced only a week into Black History Month.)


But this past Tuesday was the Lunar New Year (our cover, illustrated by Janice Chang, and art directed by the talented Lixia Guo is a beauty) and with it, there’s perhaps another opportunity to slough off what has been a rough start to 2019 thus far, and to focus on what we can actually control — being kind to one another.


We’ve got a lot of writing this month focusing on that end — from personal essays about the debts we owe our parents to a piece about two shows, Russian Doll and The Good Place, that argue in favor of human connectivity. Plus, we’ve got an excerpt from Esmé Weijun Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias.


Take care of yourselves,

Tomi

Personal Essays

Shannon Levin for BuzzFeed News

The Gym Isn’t Usually A Safe Space For Fat Women, But It’s Become My Sanctuary  by Fancy Feast 

After a lifetime of assuming I would never excel in a sport, my body is proving me wrong.

The "10 Year Challenge" meme imposes a specific kind of narrative on our lives, in which the line on the graph should only go in one direction: up and up and up.

Enzo Pérès-Labourdette for BuzzFeed News

As the youngest of three queer siblings, I'm my parents' last chance for grandkids. But I worry that by not having children, I'm robbing them of potential happiness.

I Make More Than My Immigrant Mom Ever Has. But I Can Never Repay Her by Matt Ortile 

My mom gave up so much to give me a better life in America. I owe her — and other immigrants — so much.

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Enzo Pérès-Labourdette for BuzzFeed News


As the youngest of three queer siblings, I'm my parents' last chance for grandkids. But I worry that by not having children, I'm robbing them of potential happiness.

I Built My Masculinity From Pieces Of The Boys I’ve Loved by Jamie Beckenstein

Before I came out as trans, I felt equal parts desire to be with boys and to become them. Turns out, the boys I tried to be weren’t actually boys after all.

Jade Schulz for BuzzFeed News

During the years I spent paying off my credit card debt, I came back to one special, budget-friendly recipe over and over: bodega beans.

Newsletter exclusive: an astrology column from executive editor Karolina Waclawiak

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What a week, what a month, what a year, what a life. It feels unimaginable that we are only 40 days into 2019. I am tired and looking for exit doors on this already out-of-control year. I’ve heard people say, “You can restart your day at any time,” but as February rolled around I found myself saying I wanted to restart my entire year. February 4th saw a new moon in Aquarius, which, as Chani Nicholas points out, was the first “clean slate” new moon of 2019 because it wasn’t surrounded by the shadow of January’s two eclipses. Notably, January 21st’s lunar eclipse brought with it anxiety and uncertainty about the future for many — but with that uncertainty also comes an opportunity to shift your perception about what change can do for you.  


It’s tempting for me to want to pretend January didn’t happen, but I’ve found that if I put my head in the sand during upheaval I don’t learn anything. So here’s what I’ve learned and have decided to carry into the rest of the year: Pause. To pause is to sit with your feelings — no matter how uncomfortable — and not react immediately. To pause is to understand that you might not have all the information right away and that your initial reaction might not be the best one. To pause is to give someone else who may have wronged you the benefit of the doubt — at least until you know more. How many times have I heard the phrase “feelings aren’t facts”? Pausing gives you an opportunity to think through what you might actually want and need, not in the moment, but in the long term.


In these pauses I’ve been able to listen to myself more closely. And I’ve discovered that rushing forward without pause often allowed me to (willfully) ignore the fact that I was run down or running on fumes. It’s easy to convince yourself that in the world’s chaos you should try and keep up, but that robs you of the ability to really take care of yourself. And if you can’t take care of yourself, how can you be there for others? For me, it’s important to build real connections with people — it’s a safety net I think we all need. And while being in service to others can build you into a better person, it’s important to make sure you’re not emotionally depleted first. That’s where the pause comes in. At the end of January, I took three days to give myself some space and turned everything off and just took care of myself. In that space I felt my feelings, and while I couldn’t erase the chaos of January, I could pause and regroup before deciding what to do with all the change it brought.

Features

Bijou Karman for BuzzFeed News 

Glenn Close On Her Oscar Nom: "You're Lucky If You Get A Good Piece Of Writing" by Bim Adewunmi 

 Just before her seventh Oscar nomination for The Wife, Glenn Close talked with Bim Adewunmi.

How Do You Calculate The Emotional Cost Of Ghosting Someone? by Lam Thuy Vo

 A data-driven exploration of ghosting: how we ghost, why we ghost, and what emotional debt we owe the people we date.

Ben Kothe / BuzzFeed News; Getty Images

"Dump people the way you want to be dumped."

Does LGBT Media Have A Future? by Trish Bendrix 

It’s a dark time for media — LGBT media, especially. What got us here? And how might we survive?

Books

Sugar Run Is BuzzFeed Book Club's February Read. Check Out An Excerpt Here. 

 

After 18 years spent in federal prison, Jodi McCarty finds herself in a rundown Georgia motel, drawn to a captivating single mother. (An excerpt from Mesha Maren's Sugar Run.

15 Beautiful Lines Written By Mary Oliver by Arianna Rebolini

The Pulitzer Prize–winning poet died last month at age 83.

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Jeremy Leung for BuzzFeed News 

For those of us living with severe mental illness, the world is full of cages. (An excerpt from Esmé Wang's The Collected Schizophrenias.)

Cultural Criticism 

Christopher Jue/Bravo

 

“The Real Housewives Of Atlanta” Is Really About Housing Anxiety by Niela Orr 

 

More than just a meme generator, the hit reality series reflects the bourgeois panic triggered by the 2008 recession.

Why Are “Bohemian Rhapsody” And “Green Book” Still Oscar Frontrunners? by Alison Willmore

 

As this turbulent award season comes to an end, Hollywood appears to be closing ranks around two controversial movies (and their creators) that don't really deserve to be defended.

Netflix 

 

At the heart of both TV shows is the belief that while we might all die alone, the key to getting through life is by being kind to one another. (Spoilers ahead!)

Another newsletter exclusive: an interview with a writer we love! This month: Katie Heaney, whose new YA novel, Girl, Crushed comes out next summer.

 

What are you reading... Katie Heaney?

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Courtesy of the author

  

"Maybe it's the weather, or maybe it's that I'm coming up on deadline for my own book, but I've been really into apocalyptic, pandemic narratives lately — I read and loved Severance by Ling Ma earlier this year, and now I'm reading Station Eleven. The former is newer, and after seeing it on about a hundred Instagrams from people whose taste I trust, I finally got it. Not soon enough. It was surprisingly funny, considering the subject matter, but I was also really into its take on labor. It felt like a really fitting story given our recent cultural fixation on burnout, which I don't always relate to. I could see myself in Ma's protagonist, returning to work long after most of the office has become fevered or died, partly because I don't know what else to do, and partly because it's one of few things I reliably love to do. I'm only about halfway into Station Eleven, but I'm enjoying the contrast on these books' take on what end-of-the-world humanity looks like.


I also recently read Pretend I'm Dead, by Jen Beagin, which a newish friend brought for me, unprompted, at a recent coffee date. That she brought me a book she thought I'd like was so kind in the first place, and that I actually loved it felt sort of miraculous, and old-fashioned. I so rarely get in-person book recommendations anymore, and I can't remember the last time someone handed me an actual book and said "You have to read this." Anyway, it's a book about a woman who works as a cleaning lady, and for the most part enjoys it, but because she's young and white, all her clients assume she must want to do something else. She sort of does and sort of doesn't. There's more to it than that, of course (a warning: it is also about abuse, in a way that really creeps up on you), but again I found myself fascinated with Beagin's exploration of what "work" looks like, what counts and what doesn't." 

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