The Sunday Post for September 29, 2019

Each week, the Sunday Post highlights just a few things we loved reading and want to share with you. Settle in with a cup of coffee, or tea, if that's your pleasure — we saved you a seat! Read an essay or an article online that you loved? Let us know at Need more browse? You can also look through the archives.

It was difficult to want to read anything this week. Today — yesterday, when this hits screens — I move out of the apartment I’ve lived in for 13 years; I move out of the neighborhood I’ve walked through for 13 years. I move into a house, into a house with my boyfriend, into my first house, with my boyfriend, with whom I’ve never lived.

Every book I own is in box, and my cats are very worried.

Reading up on cats and moves reminds me that they don’t comprehend “home” in quite the same way; for them, just changing the furniture up is a re-design of the universe. So the journey to a new house is like moving to an unknown continent. Involuntarily, after someone picks you up and shoves you in a box to do it.

When I worked at a wildlife rehabilitation shelter, I worked with terrified animals every day — animals who had essentially just undergone an alien abduction-type experience, swooped up by one of their largest potential predators, shoved into a tiny box, and force-fed, needled, drugged. It was impossible to forget, ever, the misery of it — the harm humans can do while correcting a human sin (a window strike, a car’s tires, the teeth of an outdoor cat). There’s a genre of books that reflects this tension with greater or lesser awareness, from Ring of Bright Water to Hawk. It’s impossible to touch the wild without giving pain. This is true even for wild animals that have become very used to domesticity.

All of which is to say that I’m taking a great deal of comfort and pleasure in Nicola Griffith’s sequence of blog posts on her new kittens. First: kitten pictures. Second: the addictively dry warmth of Griffith’s writing style, which is perfect for the nuance of kitten personality. Third: the respect and care Griffith offers the tiny balls of fluff. There’s something as strengthening in it as a sip of good scotch, or hot soup on an empty stomach.

Anyway, that is just to say that I’m enjoying it a great deal, and if you aren’t subscribed to her newsletter, you’re missing the kitten reports. And if you have any sort of uncertainty in your life, missing the kitten reports is a terrible shame.

Kitten Report No. 5
My main suspicion is that I’m not training Charlie and George, they are training me: hours and hours of play time a day, plus treatsies for playing, and endless comfy lap time afterwards. Oh, well. I’m getting a lot of reading done.
Other good reads this week

Actually, gender-neutral pronouns can change a culture

Using the pronouns people prefer is not only courteous, it can save you from looking like a fool to history! Win-win.

When William Safire wrote an “On Language” column for The New York Times about the still-nascent honorific Ms. in 1984, he was grudging at best. Marvel Comics had introduced Ms. (now Captain) Marvel, and there was even a feminist magazine called Ms. The influential Safire still groused, but he had an insurmountable problem. Geraldine Ferraro was running for vice president, and the Times’ inviolable house style insisted on an honorific. But it couldn’t be Miss. Ferraro was married. But she’d kept her own last name, so she couldn’t be Mrs. Ferraro. So Safire capitulated under duress. By 2009, when the new “On Language” columnist Ben Zimmer returned to the subject, the ruling on usage wasn’t even a question.

What the ‘crane index’ says about your changing city

The poetry and threat of the wingless cranes that dominate our sky.

As dots on a map, all cranes may look the same. But their impact isn’t indiscriminate. Even more than a construction tool, elegant wetland bird, and/or healing origami shape, cranes have become a synecdoche for transformation—telegraphing evolutions both personal and physical, wanted and unwanted.

Stories about my brother

Prachi Gupta on the loss of her brother, best friend, and sometimes political antagonist.

In the last year of his life, we had spoken to each other only twice over the phone. To each of us, the political was very much personal, stemming from wildly different responses to witnessing domestic violence within the deeply patriarchal culture of our Indian-American family. When he died, I believed that I didn’t know the facts of his life well enough to write his obituary. Worse, I feared that he wouldn’t have wanted me to write it. How do you write about someone you loved intensely, but didn’t really like?