Lena Dunham, the creator and star of the HBO series Girls, has a new collection of personal essays called Not That Kind of Girl. She joined Fresh Air to talk about oversharing, feminism, OCD, and why she thinks most depictions of sex in movies are destructive.
your life is worth living even if you’re “not doing anything”
your life is worth living even if you are “letting life pass you by”
your life is worth living even if you stay in bed all day every day watching netflix
you don’t have to be big, beloved, important, beautiful, wealthy or famous
there is dignity in just being
it is ok to be
you merely have to be
Reading between friends / Leyendo entre amigos (ilustración de Paul Hoppe)
This week on the blog, I wrote about my problem with Xander in early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist.
A related gem from Gay: “I tried not to read the comments because they get vicious, but I couldn’t help but note one commenter who told me I was an ‘angry blogger woman,’ which is simply another way of saying ‘angry feminist.’ All feminists are angry instead of, say, passionate.”
Okay guys I can go home happy now, I tattooed Li’l Sebastian from Parks & Rec. THANK YOU, Emily!
As a Portland native who just moved back to town with her liberal arts diploma in-tow, Claire Cain Miller’s recent New York Times Magazine article “Will Portland Always be a Retirement Community for the Young” stayed on my mind long after my roommates and I guffawed at its tired “Portland culture” clichés (i.e. “bearded, on skateboards, brewing kombucha”). I did not have a job lined up for after graduating this spring and, moving back to Portland, I had a sinking feeling of fear and doom that I couldn’t quite explain. As my friends from school planned their moves to New York City for internships at MoMa or dreamy-sounding jobs at Viking Press or at this absurd restaurant inside an Urban Outfitters in Brooklyn, I was getting more and more nervous that my English degree wouldn’t even be able to land me a barista job, given Portland’s reputation as the city where educated adults were fighting over jobs best suited for high schoolers.
However, as I have settled into the exact type of young, educated, and underemployed lifestyle that Miller writes about in her article, I have witnessed the characteristics of this city that make it such an incredible place to be starting a new life. I will not downplay the fact that it is truly hard to break into certain careers in Portland. It is not a place that is handing out “big girl” jobs left and right, but it has taught me a lot about finding myself outside of the realm of institutionally validated success first.
Keeping in mind Portland-based author Cheryl Strayed’s gem of advice, starting a new life in Portland has forced me to abandon notions of what is right to do, what others will judge to be success. Strayed states, “When I say you don’t have to explain what you’re going to do with your life, I’m not suggesting you lounge around whining about how difficult it is. I’m suggesting you apply yourself in directions for which we have no accurate measurement. I’m talking about work. And love.” Portland is a city in which you may not land the perfect job with the perfect salary right away, but if you apply yourself in these directions and work and love, you can find your own kind of perfect here.
I think that Miller’s argument would hold truer if she shifted her focus away from some falsely coined “semi-retirement” occurring among Portland youngsters and acknowledged that the anxiety of being a young college educated person is present no matter which city you land in. Talented and eager graduates the nation over are getting caught in spirals of un- and underemployment due to disproportionate numbers of graduates entering into job markets with very few openings, never-ending internships that likely will never turn into a paid position, and nepotistic hiring practices of many industries, particularly in the humanities (we won’t even enter into student loan discussion here!). Myself and my peers on the east and west coasts will attest that these challenges and self-doubts are the same whether you’re interning at some fancy gallery in Soho, clearing trails in Montana, or fudging about your “expert latte art skills” on your resume to get hired in Portland.
One difference I have found in Portland is that the path you take seems to matter less here. Rather, the passion with which you forge that path is what matters. There is an encouragement to side-step the established and “proper” routes from school-to-internship-to-high-paying career that reign in cities like New York and L.A.. Because of Portland’s lack of more established industry, embarking on a career is more about the love one has for his or her craft than about status or names. Miller’s article reduces the difference between Portland and other cities as such: “People move to New York to be in media or finance; they move to L.A. to be in show business… People move to Portland to move to Portland.” While I do agree with this statement, I think that the condemnatory tone Miller takes misses the mark by subscribing to a worn out stereotype that doesn’t represent the lived experience of the city’s residents. It downplays the role that self-creation plays in the quality of work done in Portland. When it comes down to it, people here are really fucking talented. Portland is a place to be inspired by your peers and to create your own ideas and projects. The DIY ethos in Portland does not just apply to knitted scarves and home brews, but rather extends into a DIY career path. As Joe Cortright notes in his response article, Portland: Hardly ‘A Retirement Community for the Young, Portlanders are 50 percent more likely to start their own businesses and the city ranks third nationally among large metro areas in terms of college-educated young adults running their own businesses.
If we are to really consider Portland’s success on a purely economic playing field, the discussion must be focused less on Portland’s quirks and more on the rather unsexy economic data. An article by Matthew Yglesias published in Slate in 2012 – when the labor market was ostensibly doing worse than it is today – takes a decidedly optimistic view of Portland’s economic and labor market future when pitted against Miller’s. Yglesias delves into exactly how Portland came to get its pithy reputation as the retirement community for the young, and it has nothing to do with beards or kombucha: “The recession of 2001 had a long-lasting effect on the labor market, but nationally it was among the shallowest on record in the postwar period. The Portland region, by contrast, suffered a spike in joblessness that was much more severe than the national average, and it didn’t bounce back any faster than the rest of the country.” The article goes on to explain that Portland’s economic trends are tied inextricably to things such as its status as a port city, which tend to experience particularly severe business cycles relating to global shipping prices. So, while everyone loves to attribute Portland’s unemployment rates and cost of living to its weirdness and zany youth culture, Portland, in fact, plays by essentially the same economic rules as every other city. Portland’s affinity for exorbitantly trendy camping gear and artisanal cocktails is not an issue of young people falling into early retirement but is a reflection of a unique urban identity that has made Portland one of the most desirable places for young creative people to live – whether they are just barely making ends meet or thriving in their new entrepreneurial effort to repurpose Pendleton flannels as coffee cozies.
Katie Gourley is a graduate of Kenyon College, a former editorial associate editor for The Kenyon Review and former intern at Portland Monthly Magazine. She currently resides in Portland, OR where she volunteers at the Independent Publishing Resource Center.
Happy National Voter Registration Day, Tumblr.
The number one way of celebrating it? Registering to vote.
Every year, millions of eligible Americans neglect to register, which means that millions of important voices are utterly silent on Election Day. Don’t be one of them. There’s basically a 100% chance that something you care about is on the ballot, something you don’t want to be quiet about.
So be one of the loud ones. Register already. It’s an easy form that you already know all the answers to. No excuses.