This is the first year I can remember where the first day of fall actually felt like the first day of fall. The temperature dropped ten degrees and it was overcast and only a little rainy. We opened up the doors in the front and back of our place and let the breeze chase away the remaining humidity (this also let in two wasps who had moseyed through the hole in the screen, but that’s another story).
Ashley set up our traditional fall living room display, with a few new additions, including the birding bird couple and the witchy broom that wafts cinnamon smells throughout the house, a gift from my parents.
But summer’s not totally gone yet, as shown by this friend who recently stopped by to hang out on our porch.
I love linguist John McWhorter's writing on modern English and languages in general. In the hands of most academics, this is a stuffy, nearly irrelevant topic. In his popular pieces, McWhorter keeps his focus on the fascinating aspects of real-life speech, and his writing style itself is fun and surprising. He's got a regular newsletter in the New York Times now, and this week he wrote about the increasing usage of the gender pronoun "they."
I like how he acknowledges that it can be difficult at first to make this shift. You have to think about something you're not used to thinking much about. (It's alright to make a mistake, though—just correct yourself and move on.) But McWhorter quickly transitions into a reflection on how exciting it is to witness such a fundamental change. He imagines being alive during the time when "thou" was replaced by "you" as the singular second-person pronoun, and turns up a letter in which Abigail Adams unironically writes, "I wish you was here."
In doing so, McWhorter shows that these kinds of changes are the rule in the life of a language, not the exception. I find this a really helpful perspective to remember any time I get frustrated with a new pattern that I'm not used to, in any area of life. It'd be weird if we didn't struggle with this stuff—change is hard. Given that it's inevitable, though, we might as well try to enjoy ourselves!
The Real Stories of Refugees
The 1,000 Dreams project tells the stories of refugees from across Europe, from their often traumatic experiences in their home countries, to their difficulties finding good housing and being treated as second-class citizens. It also shares their successes in starting businesses and building political power. The goal is to replace misleading narratives about refugees as an invading force who merely consume resources without contributing anything of value, narratives which we are all too familiar with in America as well. Neither are refugees helpless victims who are entirely at the mercy of the forces that seek to dehumanize them.
The storytellers are themselves people who come from a refugee background, and so the project itself is an embodiment of its message. It's almost overwhelming to read a couple of the stories on here and realize that to work through them all would take days, if not weeks, and that this is only a small slice of the vastness of what it means to live as an immigrant. As someone who comes from ancestors who were themselves immigrants—and really not that long ago—but who does not have any experience of this myself, I found it valuable and grounding to read these peoples' stories and see their faces.