I can see the red tail lights heading to Spain

Right now, I am in Spain. This is the view from the balcony outside my bedroom. It really is pretty.

You may recall that I was stressing out about it a little because of money and waiting and stuff. (After giving birth to four children, you’d think I’d be better at waiting than I am.) Well, that source of stress is done and I am here — with other sources of stress.

I fully comprehend the ease and comfort that can come with having lots and lots of money to travel with … or, alternatively, getting somebody else to foot the bill.

For this trip, I flew into Madrid and took a 7 hour train ride from there to San Sebastian. Then I hopped on the Basque metro and got myself out here to Errenteria, where my Airbnb host is located.
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What a difference a day makes

Well, a year, actually.

I am in the second year of my graduate program and I would never have expected that to matter as much as it does.

For starters, I’m not crazed with massive amounts of reading this year. This is not to say there’s only a little of it; anthropology is a reading intensive subject, let’s face it. But I have amounts of reading to do that are actually humanly possible.

I like that.

At the same time, as a second year, I feel like I’m more involved with the mechanics of the department, and those sorts of politics have taken up a noticeable chunk of my time and neurons.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. 
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You don’t know my kind in your world

no-racismAs you may have noticed — or you would have noticed if you’d guessed that it was at all relevant — I don’t spend much time talking about race on this blog. It’s not that I have no thoughts on the subject. At one point in my life, I had enough thoughts on the subject to write a 300+ page transcript about it. But it has never been a topic that I have allowed to run my life.

It’s kind of difficult to describe my attitude about it.

I’m neither angry nor bitter. I have never in my life made any decision about anything with the thought in my head that I can’t do something because they won’t let me. I have never let my race interfere with anything that I decided I wanted to do. It is a fact of my appearance of which I am aware, in much the same way that I am aware that my eyes are brown and that I am 5’5″ tall.

But don’t mistake me. None of this means that I am unaware of the deeply embedded racism that is pervasive in the society in which I live. I don’t get angry when that racism rears its head in particularly spectacular ways (Dylan Root comes to mind) because I have developed a profound cynicism about it over the years of my life. I am no longer surprised or terribly disillusioned by anything I hear because I have never believed that mainstream America has made any real strides toward obliterating racism at all in the 45 years or so since I started paying attention.

In spite of that, on a day-to-day basis, I spend zero time pondering my blackness, or considering my blackness, or thinking about it in any way. For me, it’s just there. The only time it attaches itself to me as a viscerally felt part of my identity is when somebody else makes it a thing.
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Why are middle-aged whites dying?

Like pretty much everything this guy writes, this is quite thought-provoking. I don’t know about you, but I like having my thoughts provoked.

The Weekly Sift

I’m doing fine, but my cousin is dead.


Look at this graph :

In 1990, the death rate for American whites aged 45-54 (USW) was within the normal range of similarly aged people in comparable countries, and similar to the death rate for middle-aged American Hispanics (USH). In all the other countries, death rates continued their centuries-long trend of dropping, with USH tracking the United Kingdom rate almost perfectly. But starting in 1998, USW turns up.

A good summary of this new study is in The Atlantic. The upshot is that about half a million American whites are dead who would be alive if USW death rates had followed the downward track of other first-world countries. The effect seems concentrated in the less-educated classes, and the cause is a sudden jump in the rate of what are called “poisonings” — mainly deaths related to alcohol and drugs —…

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