December 31, 2020

This thing or circumstance that now gives me an impression: What is it? What is it made of? How long will it last? And, most important, what quality does it require of me, such as gentleness, courage, honesty, faith, simplicity, independence, and the like?


The Essential Marcus Aurelius
Translated & Introduced by Jacob Needleman & John P. Piazza

I have felt it all this year—grief, rage, confusion, loneliness, despair. And also: overwhelming gratitude, quiet bursts of joy, intimate connection, sparks of inspiration, and resounding waves of hope. Thankful for these silver linings as I reflect on a challenging year.

"Remember how long you have been putting these things off, and how often you have received an opportunity from the gods and have not made use of it. By now you ought to realize what cosmos you are a part of, and what divine administrator you owe your existence to, and that an end to your time here has been marked out, and if you do not use this time for clearing the clouds from your mind, it will be gone, and so will you."
(Book Two, 2.4, p. 12) 

"For the person who has chosen his own intelligence and inner spirit, and the sacred reveling in this kind of excellence, does not play a tragic role, does not groan with lament, and has no need of either complete solitude or excessive company. Most important, such a person will live life neither chasing it nor fleeing from it."
(Book Three, 3.7, p. 22) 

"Nothing is so productive of greatness of mind as the ability to examine systematically and truthfully each thing we encounter in life, and to see these things in such a way as to comprehend the nature of the Cosmos, and what sort of benefit such things possess for both the Whole and for humans, all of whom are citizens of the most supreme City, that is the entire world, compared to which all actual cities are like mere households. This thing or circumstance that now gives me an impression: What is it? What is it made of? How long will it last? And, most important, what quality does it require of me, such as gentleness, courage, honesty, faith, simplicity, independence, and the like? Therefore it is necessary in each case to say the following: this circumstance has come from god and is in keeping with fate or with coincidence; while this other circumstance is caused by a relative and neighbor, though such a person is ignorant of what his nature requires of him. But I am not ignorant, and therefore I will treat them well and justly, according to the natural law which governs any community. At the same time, in morally neutral matters I will work with them in pursuit of what is right."
(Book Three, 3.11, p. 24) 

"For nowhere can a person retire more full of peace and free from care than into one's own soul; above all, if one has that place within oneself into which one can turn one's attention one is immediately at ease. And by ease I mean nothing other than the right ordering of the whole person. Continually give yourself this kind of retreat and regenerate yourself, but keep your rules of living brief and basic so that, when consulted, they will immediately wash away all distress and send you back to your work without resentment. What is it that disturbs you? Human evil? Recall this truth to your mind: rational beings have come into existence for the sake of each other; and tolerance and patience are aspects of what it means to be just; and people do not do wrong intentionally. Also, consider how many people, having lived in enmity, suspicion, hatred, and combat—how many have been laid out as corpses and reduced to ashes. Recall this, and cease your discontent. But will you let mere fame distract you? Turn your gaze to the quick forgetfulness of all things, the abyss of the ages on either side of this present moment, and the empty echo of praise, the transitory quality and lack of judgment on the part of those who praise, and the tiny area in which all this is confined. For the entire Earth is only a mere point in the universe, and what a small corner of the Earth is our dwelling place; and in that place, see how few and of what sort are the people who celebrate you! For the time that remains, remember the humble refuge which is yourself. And, above all, do not be anxious or overextend yourself, but be truly independent and see circumstances from the perspective of a man, of a human being, of a citizen, a creature who will surely die. But among the thoughts that are closest at hand, which you willl look to, let these two be there: first, the various difficulties need not penetrate to your soul but can remain external, unaffecting—such disturbances come from nothing other than your internal judgments; second, remember that all the things which you now see are changing and will not continue to exist as they are. Continually bear in mind how many changes you have already witnessed. The Cosmos is constant change, and our lives are but a series of choices." 
(Book Four, 4.3, p. 28)

October 31, 2020

Through all times the moon has endured out there, pale and distant, determining the tides and tugging at the heart, a symbol, a beacon, a goal.

Full, bright, beautiful moon tonight. Last night, too. She's just gorgeous and perennially guides me out of my head and tides me in to the present.

(Fun fact: it is the first full moon on Halloween visible across all U.S. timezones since 1944.)

I purchased the Wildsam Field Guide to the Moon in the early days of the pandemic and relished in this love letter to the moon and cosmos.

I loved too that it was inclusive of all perspectives and gave space to both the wonder of space exploration and its superfluousness when compared to the plights of marginalized Black people on Earth. Both of these passages are so equally human and valid in their despair and hope.

"Moon Probe Laudable — But Blacks Need Help" Jet Magazine by Simeon Booker (July 31, 1969)

Landing an astronaut on the moon has more priority in America than putting a black man on his feet, in a job, or a poor family on a decent diet. This space accomplishment at a cost of billions of dollars will receive coast to coast acclaim and international attention.
But as a black Washington correspondent, I see this week as a crucial period in history. There will be headlines and hours of radio and television time on the day to day activity. President Nixon invited the president of his alma mater, Whittier College, to speak at the White House religious service on "the Meaning of The Man on The Moon." Meanwhile what of the man in the street—in poverty stricken Appalachia, Watts, and Harlem. He wished the astronauts well and marvels at their courage.
But he also wonders if the powers of science and technology will ever focus in such a fashion on his problems. Thanks to modern communications, even the simplest ghetto dweller knows that the American space program and its counterpart in the Soviet Union are almost as political in their motives as they are scientific. 
And while the victims of poverty watch the space race with awe, we wonder how long it will be before the synopsis of a moon flight wears off and the victims of poverty realize that they are still hungry. Perhaps the presence of the mule train of the Poor People's Campaign at Cape Kennedy will remind some people that their NASA tax dollars might best be spent in other ways.
Sometime, somehow, we Americans—and the Russians as well—must think about making the earth a better place to live. To escape to the moon is no answer for any of us—black, white, brown or yellow.

CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite - July 24, 1969

"Well, man's dream and a nation's pledge have now been fulfilled. The lunar age has begun. And with it, mankind's march outward into that endless sky from this small planet circling an insignificant star in a minor solar system on the fringe of a seemingly infinite universe. The path ahead will be long; it's gong to be arduous; it's going to be pretty doggone costly. We may hope, but we should not believe, in the excitement of today, that the next trip or the ones to follow are going to be particularly easy. But we have begun with 'a small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind,' in Armstrong's unforgettable words. In these eight days of the Apollo II mission the world was witness to not only the triumph of technology, but to the strength of man's resolve and the persistence of his imagination. Through all times the moon has endured out there, pale and distant, determining the tides and tugging at the heart, a symbol, a beacon, a goal. Now man has prevailed. He's landed on the moon, he's stabbed into its crust; he's stolen some of its soil to bring back in a tiny treasure ship to perhaps unlock some of its secrets. The date's now indelible. It's going to be remembered as long as man survives—July 20, 1969—the day a man reached and walked on the moon. The least of us is improved by the things done by the best of us. Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins are the best of us, and they've led us further and higher than we ever imagined we were likely to go."

October 30, 2020

She brings not only light, but fire.

© St. Martin's Press

AOC: The Fearless Rise and Powerful Resonance of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Edited by Lynda Lopez

Alexandria inspires me, as she has so many others, to be more, to do more, to fight, to be informed, to be brave, to clap back when necessary, to wear my hoops and red lipstick boldly, to speak my flawed Spanish shamelessly, and on and on. Enjoyed reading these impassioned tributes to her and recognizing myself as part of a collective of strong women [and supportive men] who have been called to action by her light and fire.

The Imagined Threat of a Woman Who Governs Like A Man by Rebecca Traister

"It's this very possibility that's exhilarating for some, chilling for others: that women, and in this case, progressive women of color, newly elected in historic numbers, might team up in defense of one another, come to each other's aid, exact political revenge on those who would vanquish their allies in ways they have never been capable of before. Because it's not that women in the past haven't had the will or desire to respond to the affront of having been stepped over by powerful men; it's that they have not had the numbers, the voice or the chutzpah that comes with those things until very, very recently. What's scary to so many about Ocasio-Cortez is that she's acting like a politician with power."
(pp. 69-70)

In No Uncertain Terms by Natalia Sylvester

"What I couldn't have known is that my Spanish was never fated to be perfect. How could it be, when English was the main vehicle through which I consumed everything? It was the language of my friends, my teachers, my textbooks, and the movies, TV shows, songs, and stories I loved...But when you speak you first language only at home, it becomes your second. It becomes the carrier of all things domestic, its development stunted like a grown child who never makes it out on their own. Which is why, the first time I heard AOC speak Spanish on national television, I experienced pride, horror, shame, joy, and relief all in the time it took her to form one sentence."
(p. 72)

"To deal with the shame of hearing my own flawed Spanish come out of someone else's mouth, I first reached for the cheapest of coping mechanisms, comparing and critiquing AOC's fluency. How easily we perpetuate internalized harm, especially if we've never stopped to interrogate its roots."
(p. 73)

"If language is power, then my Spanish, flawed as it may be, has served its purpose by allowing me to help others."
(p. 80)

"I've watched the video of AOC on Univision 5, 10, 15 times. It occurs to me that I've been leaving myself out of too many conversations out of fear, and I think maybe if I watch her closely enough, I'll learn how to speak Spanish with more confidence. 
In it, there's no room for AOC to overthink or rehearse her answers, and even more impressively: it doesn't matter. When she approaches someone on a sidewalk to talk about the 2020 census, they respond to her warmth and passion, not her grammar. When Tejeda asks about her favorite food and AOC says, "Mofongo, soy puertorriqueña," the two Latinas laugh in mutual celebration of their community. 
There's no challenge to her identity, no doubt cast over her worth. Her Spanish is not flawed, it is simply honest, a more true representation of what it can mean to be first-gen Latinx in the United States today. Rooted in one place and now grounded in another, we find we are constantly translating, journeying back and forth. We find that our language, and the stories it carries, is not a straight path. Not necessarily English or "proper" Spanish or even Spanglish. Not the right words or the wrong words, either.
Here, in the conversations that those like AOC are creating, we don't need to apologize for our language. We have the words we learned at home, the ones we know by heart. They are good enough, powerful enough. They will be heard."
(pp. 82-3)

The Center Will Not Hold. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is Counting On It by Erin Aubrey Kaplan

"Ocasio-Cortez made us remember who we are because of who she is: she's not simply a person worthy of being elected—bright, informed, empathetic, people oriented. She comprises all the demographics we need to see more of in government right now: female, Latina, of color, young, concerned about climate change and all the other big, paralyzing crises that have piled up over years and are bearing down on all of us, whatever our demographic. In the version of the near future that puts America on a fast train to ruin, unwilling or unable to break the momentum of any big crises, she is a road sign that says: turn here. Ocasio-Cortez brings not only light, but fire."
(pp. 85-6)

Latinas Are So Money by Carmen Rita Wong

"The power she has is twofold: (1) She has the confidence of conviction. She understands that money and economic policies shape our lives in this country, particularly the lives of people of color. (2) Her knowledge of the system is the fuel she uses to push ahead through the pile-on of dudes dismissing her at every turn."
(p. 113)

"...This is about understanding how revolutionary it is to have someone who looks like us, who shares our history and our expansive underrepresented culture, speaking to power. And money—boring, scary money—is key to leveling the playing field. AOC knows that. Now millions more of us are getting to know and see that, too." 
(p. 120)

P.S. I voted early today and felt powerful, hopeful, and brave.
& an update from my journal on Election Day: "Strangely (or not) I feel as I did four years ago: very hopeful. The whiplash of emotions after Hillary lost stunned us all into silence at first and then action in ensuing weeks. I know the risk of the same outcome is very much alive, but still I feel hopeful." 

May 10, 2020

She didn't read books so she didn't know that she was the world and the heavens boiled down to a drop.

Their Eyes Were Watching God
By Zora Neale Hurston

"There are years that ask questions and years that answer."
(p. 21)
this is a year that answers, for me.

"Janie stood where he left her for unmeasured time and thought. She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered. But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams. Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over. In a way she turned her back upon the image where it lay and looked further. She had no more blossomy openings dusting pollen over her man, neither any glistening young fruit where the petals used to be. She found that she had a host of thoughts she had never expressed to him, and numerous emotions she had never let Jody know about. Things packed up and put away in parts of her heart where he could never find them. She was saving up feelings for some man she had never seen. She had an inside and an outside now and suddenly she knew how not to mix them."
(p. 72)

"She didn't read books so she didn't know that she was the world and the heavens boiled down to a drop."
(p. 76)

"Years ago, she had told her girl self to wait for her in the looking glass. It had been a long time since she had remembered. Perhaps she'd better look. She went over to the dresser and looked hard at her skin and features. The young girl was gone, but a handsome woman had taken her place. She tore off the kerchief from her head and let down her plentiful hair. The weight, the length, the glory was there."
(p. 87)

May 09, 2020

She was seeking confirmation of the voice and vision, and everywhere she found and acknowledged answers.

photo of my library copy

Their Eyes Were Watching God
By Zora Neale Hurston

the language and imagery >>>>

"It was a spring afternoon in West Florida. Janie had spent most of the day under a blossoming pear tree in the backyard. She had been spending every minute that she could steal from her chores under that tree for the last three days. That was to say, ever since the first tiny bloom had opened. It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery. From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously. How? Why? It was like a flute song forgotten in another existence and remembered again. What? How? Why? This singing she had heard that had nothing to do with her ears. The rose of the world was breathing out smell. It followed her through all her waking moments and caressed her in her sleep. It connected itself with other vaguely felt matters that had struck her outside observation and buried themselves in her flesh. Now they emerged and quested about her consciousness.
She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation. Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid.
After a while she got up from where she was and went over the little garden field entire. She was seeking confirmation of the voice and vision, and everywhere she found and acknowledged answers. A personal answer for all other creations except herself. She felt an answer seeking her, but where? When? How? She found herself at the kitchen door and stumbled inside. In the air of the room were flies tumbling and singing, marrying and giving in marriage. When she reached the narrow hallway she was reminded that her grandmother was home with a sick headache. She was lying across the bed asleep so Janie tipped on out of the front door. Oh to be a pear tree—any tree in bloom! With kissing bees singing of the beginning of the world! She was sixteen. She had glossy leaves and bursting buds and she wanted to struggle with life but it seemed to elude her. Where were the singing bees for her? Nothing on the place nor in grandma's house answered her. She searched as much of the world as she could from the top of the front steps and then went on down to the front gate and leaned over to gaze up and down the road. Looking, waiting, breathing short with impatience.
Waiting for the world to be made.
(pp. 10-11)

May 03, 2020

When I think 'bout dat time I try not to cry no mo'. My eyes dey stop crying' but de tears runnee down inside me all de time.

Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"
By Zora Neale Hurston

"When I see de king dead, I try to 'scape from de soldiers. I try to make it to de bush, but all soldiers overtake me beef' I git dere. O Lor', Lor'! When I think 'bout dat time I try not to cry no mo'. My eyes dey stop crying' but de tears runnee down inside me all de time. When de men pull me wit dem I call my mama name. I doan know where she is. I no see none my family. I doan know where day is. I beg de men to let me go findee my folks. De soldiers say hey got no ears for crying'. De king of Dahomey come to hunt slave to sell. So dey tie me in de line wid de rest."
(p. 47)

"Kossula was no longer on the porch with me. He was squatting about that fire in Dahomey. His face was twitching in abysmal pain. It was a horror mask. He had forgotten that I was there. He was thinking aloud and gazing into the dead faces in the smoke. His agony was so acute that he became inarticulate. He never noticed my preparation to leave him. 
So I slipped away as quietly as possible and left him with his smoke pictures."
(p. 49)

"It was on a hot Saturday afternoon that I came to photograph Kossula.
"I'm glad you takee my picture. I want see how I look. Once long time ago somebody come take my picture but they never give me one. You give me one."
I agreed. He went inside to dress for the picture. When he came out I saw that he had put on his best suit but removed his shoes. "I want to look lak I in Affica, 'cause dat where I want to be," he explained.
He also asked to be photographed in the cemetery among the graves of his family."
(p. 89)

May 02, 2020

Life, inexhaustible, goes on. And we do too. Carrying our wounds and our medicines as we go.

Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"
By Zora Neale Hurston

Cudjo (Kossula) Lewis has been seared into my memory. His homesickness: unforgettable.

Barracoon is the first of four assigned reads in a Zora Neale Hurston reading group I joined earlier this year. (Hosted by the Center for Fiction.) The first of hers for me, ever. We met to discuss it just before the pandemic forced us to quarantine, and I walked away enriched by the honest and open conversation between our group of nine.

Cudjo's retelling of his experience is painful, enlightened, soft, deep. 

My understanding of African history, American history and the transatlantic slave trade has widened. My sense of origin has shifted too, his account serving as a tiny window into the experience of that of my ancestors. 

I've wanted to write about this book since February, and that I can't wholly describe its import and impact has held me back. Alice Walker says it beautifully.

From Alice Walker's Foreword "Those Who Love Us Never Leave Us Alone With Our Grief"
"And then, the story of Cudjo Lewis's life after Emancipation. His happiness with "freedom," helping to create a community, a church, building his own house. His tender love for his wife, Seely, and their children. The horrible deaths that follow. We see a man so lonely for Africa, so lonely for his family, we are struck with the realization that he is naming something we ourselves work hard to avoid: how lonely we are too in this still foreign land: lonely for our true culture, our people, our singular connection to a specific understanding of the Universe. And that what we long for, as in Cudjo Lewis's case, is gone forever. But we see something else: the nobility of a soul that has suffered to the point almost of erasure, and still it struggles to be whole, present, giving. Growing in love, deepening in understanding. Cudjo's wisdom becomes so apparent, toward the end of his life, that neighbors ask him to speak to them in parables. Which he does. Offering peace.
Here is the medicine:
That though the heart is breaking, happiness can exist in a moment, also. And because the moment in which we live is all the time there really is, we can keep going.
It may be true, and often is, that every person we hold dear is taken from us. Still. From moment to moment, we watch our beans and our watermelons grow. We plant. We hoe. We harvest. We share with neighbors. If a young anthropologist appears with two hams and gives us one, we look forward to enjoying it.
Life, inexhaustible, goes on. And we do too. Carrying our wounds and our medicines as we go.
Ours is an amazing, a spectacular, journey in the Americas. It is so remarkable one can only be thankful for it, bizarre as that may sound. Perhaps our planet is for learning to appreciate the extraordinary wonder of life that surrounds even our suffering, and to say Yes, if through the thickest of tears."

April 29, 2020

Action is hope.

This weekend, yesterday, today, I returned to center.

Continuing on the thread of rethinking the doomsday machine we've built, I've begun thinking about the ways to transform the negative emotions and pains that have resurfaced during quarantine. Keeping self and selflessness balanced is a delicate task, and right now the seesaw is motioning from one side to the other. How can I best serve this new world?

My friend Greg shared this interview excerpt on Instagram a few days ago. For the record, I generally do believe in optimism. Nevertheless, this sparked new energy in me.

From The Bradbury Chronicles By Sam Weller:

"I don't believe in optimism. I believe in optimal behavior. That's a different thing. If you behave every day of your life to the top of your genetics, what can you do? Test it. Find out. You don't know—you haven't done it yet. You must live life at the top of your voice! At the top of your lungs shout and listen to the echoes. I learned a lesson years ago. I had some wonderful Swedish meatballs at my mother's table with my dad and my brother and when I finished I pushed back from the table and said, God! That was beautiful. And my brother said, No, it was good. See the difference?
Action is hope. At the end of each day, when you've done your work, you lie there and think, Well, I'll be damned, I did this today. It doesn't matter how good it is, or how bad—you did it. At the end of the week you'll have a certain amount of accumulation. At the end of a year, you look back and say, I'll be damned, it's been a good year."

April 26, 2020

And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves.

Where to even begin. I've spent a lot of time trying to process this moment in my journal(s), but I don't know that I have any words of value to offer the world. As of today, I am safe. I am healthy. The same can be said of my family and friends. The people I know of who have been or are sick are still OK and are able to recover from their homes. (*knocks on wood*) The weekends have felt safer—with the quiet and solace found in comforting activities—but the weeks are hard. Dissonance with working at what feels like 2x the pace, three hours longer per day on average, and feeling so disconnected, exhausted and overcome with grief, confusion, uncertainty.

The American Exception Zadie Smith/The New Yorker
"Death has come to America. It was always here, albeit obscured and denied, but now everybody can see it."

'I Become a Person of Suspicion' The Daily
Jiayang Fan of The New Yorker reflects on being an Asian American in this country. It was really affecting—she speaks of her experiences and memories so eloquently and thoughtfully, even when they're painful.

6 Lives Stolen On New York City's 2 Deadliest Days Somini Sengupta & Andrea Salcedo/NY Times
So much care was given to this beautifully written tribute. They honored lives that may have otherwise been overlooked and they have my infinite respect for that.

The pandemic is a portal Arundhati Roy/The Financial Times
"What is this thing that has happened to us? It’s a virus, yes. In and of itself it holds no moral brief. But it is definitely more than a virus. Some believe it’s God’s way of bringing us to our senses. Others that it’s a Chinese conspiracy to take over the world. Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality”, trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it."

February 29, 2020

I also realize that I was a long way, still, from finding my voice.

By Michelle Obama

I read and listened to Becoming over Thanksgiving weekend in fall 2018. It was the first Thanksgiving I spent alone (and did so willingly). I had just returned from Peru, Houston and I was craving the alone time, plus I'd spend the long Christmas break with my family in a few weeks.

It was strange times because I'd also felt a lump in my breast that week and spent much of that weekend imagining the worst, so I fluctuated between feeling panic about that and comfort from Michelle's tales. (A week later, doctors confirmed it was a benign cyst.)

I alternated between listening (and loved hearing it in Michelle's voice) and reading, unintentionally deciding to read the more poignant parts: her emotional tribute to her late friend Suzanne, describing her father's love—felt a pang in my heart, meeting Barack Obama for the first time. I sat in silence with those stories and felt their impact more profoundly.

Here are my notes sitting in drafts of best observations/takeaways/lessons:
  • vulnerability is everything; & I appreciated that she shared hers
  • the power of telling your own story & 
  • recalling all of the sights and sounds of your life—she was so good at this
  • learn your self-worth & hold onto it
  • know yourself before partnership
  • children are so valuable and so is making them feel seen
  • therapy works and is necessary! especially with a partner
  • forget checking all of your boxes in life
I've felt quiet since the beginning of the year, struggling to use my voice in a meaningful way. I've a lot going on. I recognize when I'm less confident because words escape my mouth like whispers and my sentences taper off. I'm grappling with how to express what's inside while often feeling like an outsider. I feel this extra after a trip to the Dominican Republic where I experienced more discomfort and disconnection (and growth?) than I expected. This rings true:

"Everyone seemed to fit in, except for me. I look back on the discomfort of that moment now and recognize the more universal challenge of squaring who you are with where you come from and where you want to go. I also realize that I was a long way, still, from finding my voice."(p. 41)

At the same time, I know the feeling is fleeting and, one day, like Michelle, I'll reflect on this time with similar wisdom.

Here I'd also like to show love to two memoirs I read recently. I don't have excerpts but they are wonderful.

Malala Yousafzai's I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot
  • I expected to read Malala's life story and be impressed. What I didn't expect:
    • To learn her father was the intrinsic piece; her devotion to education came from his example—& his bravery in educating children, including girls in face of the Taliban; he is a hero & his love for her is enduring and likely was her saving grace.
    • Her homesickness to affect me so deeply. It's the primary thing I remember from her memoir. She wants desperately to return to her beautiful home and can't.
Trevor Noah's Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
  • I was in awe of his ability to reflect on all of his experiences—big, small, traumatic, enlightening—growing up in post-apartheid South Africa with humor, wisdom, forgiveness, and acceptance. At the young age of 36!
  • I listened to this via Audible the whole way through and, swoon. Love his voice.