Lilacs, Kiełbasa, and Why New Jersey Deserves Better

“Well, I give up. What’s the catch?”

“Oh, no catch. Although we are technically in New Jersey.”

The way American television talks about New Jersey, one would think the apocalypse already happened, but only there. The air is semisolid industrial waste and the beaches are made of finely ground syringes. The people are ruder than the rudest New York stereotype, bizarrely puffed-up Italian-American caricatures, elitist Princeton heirs, and immigrants from all over Asia and Latin America, somehow all at once, with only racism letting anyone have something other than the most impossibly overwrought “New Jersey accent.” It’s treated as New York’s leavings and the USA’s armpit, in media as obnoxiously cliché as How I Met Your Mother and as original and usually-compassionate as Steven Universe.

None of that is the New Jersey I remember from the eleven years I lived there.

Continue reading “Lilacs, Kiełbasa, and Why New Jersey Deserves Better”

Lilacs, Kiełbasa, and Why New Jersey Deserves Better

Immigrant Gems

It is not possible to run out of reasons to love Steven Universe. This show’s explicitly queer representation is staggeringly high for a show as mainstream as it is; its psychological depth is impressive; it tells us forthrightly and aggressively that our genders should not constrain our possibilities; most of the characters are women or people of color (and largely voiced by people of color); there is a plot arc that is unambiguously about consent and another about being willing to seek comfort from one’s friends in crisis; onward and onward.

It’s also an impressively diverse treatment of immigrants’ and refugees’ feelings about the place they used to call home.

Spoilers out to episode 83 follow.

Continue reading “Immigrant Gems”

Immigrant Gems

Making This Body Mine

My navel piercing was exhilarating.  I got it the last time I was in Miami, surrounded by my Miami friends who had no idea why I’d just signed up for such a feminine-coded body modification.  Having friends there made the event exciting; having Ania made it safe.  I faced the needle with enough nervousness that I had to fill out the “I’m the right age” form twice.

Ania has a picture of the face I made when it went in.  I’m not sharing it.

Afterward, though?  The soreness commingled with a heady endorphin rush that I should have expected but most definitely did not.  I was giddy with delight.  If we weren’t already at our financial limit, I might have signed up for another piercing then and there, in that euphoric haze.  I’m looking forward to that feeling again.

Continue reading “Making This Body Mine”

Making This Body Mine

Crack in the Womb

[Spoilers for the Season 1 finale of Steven Universe follow.]

The moment that sealed Steven Universe into richly-deserved fame and a place in future discussions of the evolution of pop culture was the 52nd episode, ”Jail Break.”  In addition to pointedly and thoroughly burnishing the show’s credentials as queer-inclusive and emotionally complex, it provided viewers with a beautifully-composed song-and-fight sequence, from the only one of the four main characters to have avoided a musical number until then:

The words of “Stronger Than You” are poetic and poignant, particularly these:

I am a conversation.

I am made


Lo-o-o-o-ove o-o-o-o-of

And it’s stronger than you.

Continue reading “Crack in the Womb”

Crack in the Womb