You’ll be proud of me, loyal readers. I’m taking my first real vacation in more than two years. (Take that, capitalism!) It’s been great to get away, rest, and reflect. As this newsletter approaches its sixth year and 300th issue, I’m feeling extra grateful for your readership. (Should there be a bi
You’ll be proud of me, loyal readers. I’m taking my first real vacation in more than two years. (Take that, capitalism!) It’s been great to get away, rest, and reflect. As this newsletter approaches its sixth year and 300th issue, I’m feeling extra grateful for your readership. (Should there be a big celebration, once it’s safe, to commemorate the milestone?)
This week’s issue spans a variety of topics, in typical Highlighter fashion. The lead article, “Am I A Conditional American?” explores a Korean American woman’s experience with anti-Asian hate. After that probing piece, you’ll find an interview about death, a travelogue about teeth, and a reflection on the superior navigational abilities of animals. Please enjoy!
+ Article Club was a big success again last weekend. We discussed Francesca Mari’s “A Lonely Occupation,” an outstanding piece about gentrification. It was possibly the deepest conversation we’ve had. The only problem is that some of you weren’t there. If reading great articles and making new friends sound intriguing, we’d love to have you. Plus I have good news: This month, we’ll be discussing “Baking Bread In Lyon,” one of my favorite articles from last year, and author Bill Buford will be joining our conversation (and maybe judging our sourdough).
Cindy Lee: “At 64 years old, I’ve come to realize that my feeling of safety is conditional. My acceptance is conditional. My Americanness is conditional. The rules are not up to those of us who are ‘other.’ Despite how we feel, who we are or what we’ve done, someone else gets to decide if we are dangerous, diseased or even American. The American Dream can be bestowed, and it can be withdrawn. Now, the American Dream is less dreamy for me, less sure. For too many, it’s never been.” (3 min)
+ Ms. Lee wrote this essay, her first published work, for a course at Arizona State University, where she is pursuing a master’s in Liberal Studies.
Common sense suggests that being reminded of our death would make us kinder and gentler, more generous and open-minded. But according to psychologist Sheldon Solomon, the opposite is true: Our fear of the unknown causes us to turn inward, focusing on ourselves and those we trust, suspicious of anyone outside our cultural group. In this interview, Prof. Solomon explains Terror Management Theory, which accounts for why the pandemic has exacerbated polarization. After all, when times get tense, we might want to practice gratitude and humility. But we can’t help human nature. (30 min)
If the rate of vaccinations outpaces the rate of virus variants, we’ll soon see a rise in two of Americans’ favorite pastimes: summer vacations and going to the dentist. Why not combine the two with a trip to Los Algodones, the dental tourism capital of the world? Get a crown, install an implant, replace some gums, or do a full mouth reconstruction, all for pennies on the dollar, thanks to the inequities of the American health care system. Even if you’re not experiencing piercing pain, you may want to try out veneers, popular among teen influencers, to boost your confidence in our society obsessed with teeth. (19 min)
Good thing the pandemic has kept me mostly sheltered in place, because without Google Maps, there’s no telling if I’ll get from here to there. Most animals, though, don’t need a GPS, and in this outstanding article by Kathryn Schulz, you’ll learn how Canada geese, Monarch butterflies, jumping spiders, and even your pet Goldendoodle navigate their environment, even if they’re plopped down for the first time in the middle of nowhere. Get ready for some science! (26 min)
: Last week’s lead article, “The Stories I Haven’t Been Told,” sparked strong emotions in many of you. VIP
loved the piece and wrote, “I want to hear more from Jamie Figueroa, that writing was exciting. Having two sisters and a very single mom, I related so much to this article it was scary, and I’m Puerto Rican. I really hope you get her in for Article Club.” I’ve already emailed Ms. Figueroa to join us, and if she says yes, you’ll be the first to find out!
expressed her appreciation for “A Letter to My Fellow Asian Women Whose Hearts Are Still Breaking.” She wrote, “Thank you for choosing the article by R.O. Kwon and for particularly highlighting the voice of Korean women.” The murders were horrific, and my hope is to find more pieces like Ms. Kwon’s that might be helpful and supportive.
Given that everyone faces a cavalcade of email, it’s heartwarming to hear when you’ve appreciated receiving the newsletter. Loyal reader
wrote, “I love your friendly, warm, interested voice that you use in the newsletter. :) It's one of my fave emails to get every week!” Thank you, Johanna!
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