LinkedIn just suggested I apply for a job at The New York Times, where I’d be thrilled to work. So I clicked on the link and it’s actually to be a copywriter at a company owned by the NYT, called Fake Love. It’s a Brooklyn-based “experiential agency” and with a name like Fake Love, I don’t think I’m cool enough to work there.
I’m going to go ahead and be earnest mom for a second and say it: The world does not need fake love. The world needs people to do what they believe in, and care deeply about it.
My daughter’s 4th grade teacher is the opposite of fake love. Today is her last day of class, and this classroom was a special place. Teachers like Mrs. Harris teach with real love—a genuine belief in what they’re doing and why it’s important. She went beyond the curriculum to help her students navigate disputes and misunderstandings. She posed questions like, “I know you didn’t say that to be mean, but how do you think she felt when you said that?” She cultivated compassion in these kids when she could’ve easily averted her eyes and checked her phone. Teachers like her are magnificent humans.
She’s not the only one, thank goodness. In my son’s middle school, the administrators have repeatedly shown a generosity of spirit with my obstreperous boy. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve received a call from the front office about his smart mouth or obnoxious antics. Time and again, the teachers and assistant principals have told me how much they like Julius and how they see what a great kid he is, even when he’s being a total shit.
I could never do their jobs, and they can’t fake their way through stuff like this. That’s real love, and I’m so grateful.
Here’s some other stuff I have real love for:
Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe
Non-fiction books that read like fiction are high on my list of favorite things that I can’t eat. This one is all about Northern Ireland and the IRA, aka The Troubles.
Maybe your mom wasn’t Irish Catholic, but this was definitely a part of my childhood. I knew all about the bombs, the hunger strikes, the oppression of Catholics in Northern Ireland by the English. This book tells the story with such force and clarity, however, that I understand it all so much more deeply now.
For instance, we all know Belfast was ground zero. But did you know how small Belfast is? There are 280,211 people living in Belfast. Washington DC’s population is three times that and it’s not a big city. Cape Cod, that vacation wonderland, has a population of 215,888. Imagine if Wellfleet went to war with Hyannis Port. That’s essentially what The Troubles were.
Keefe makes you feel this smallness. He talks about how a young man whose mother was forcibly taken from his home (and never seen again, naturally) hops into a taxi to discover the driver is one of the men who took his mom.
The current peace is not whole-hearted. Gerry Adams is a white-haired peacemaker now, but his past is soaked in blood. The walls Northern Ireland constructed 50 years ago to try to stop the violence in Belfast are still there. It didn’t necessarily make me feel good about the world, or the future, but I could not put this book down.
Listen to Michael Lewis
If you’re like me, sometimes reading the news can be disheartening, angst-producing, rage-inducing. I often just don’t (...hence all the time to read and listen to books). Sometimes, however, information can help make meaning out of the world. The world might still make you angry, but at least you understand it all better.
That’s what I feel like Michael Lewis has done for me in his Audible original, The Coming Storm, and in his podcast called Against the Rules. He is a brilliant writer, plus he speaks with a nice Louisiana drawl and the slightest tinge of amusement at the absurdity of it all. His voice takes the sting out of the truth he’s telling.
Against the Rules is a multi-part podcast that gets at the way our culture seems to have done away with the ref, as he puts it. He starts with a literal example—the NBA, that is—where the superstars routinely beef with the refs. It’s fun to listen to and thought-provoking to consider the message it’s sending young fans. The premise is sound and his reporting is sharp--especially when he goes into the world of consumer financial products (episode 2). “We thought we were the customer,” he says, “We didn’t realize we were the crop.”
The Coming Storm is a 2.5 hour-long Audible original that uses the example of the government’s amazing quantity of weather data to explicate how the Trump administration is neglecting to govern. Through a combination of greed, ineptitude, and arrogance, his administration is squandering opportunities to harness big data to protect agriculture, small business and the citizenry. It’s unsettling and rage-inducing but enormously informative.
Ok. Time to start chanting “Everything is going to OK” again...Thanks for reading!