D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: millions

Resolved: On Reading the Internets

Well I already did My Year in Reading but I wanted to touch on something else. Specifically, Internet Reading. I would be lying if I didn't say that it is real-life books that get me going, but I also wake up and check my blog reader nearly every AM (my favorite one is Feedly, BTW). I prefer paper books to digital, but I am increasingly being convinced of the affordability and sustainability of e-books, though I can hardly ever be convinced to sit down with my own cumbersome kindle. 

So, we all read on the internet, right? And things have changed quite a bit. I haven't been a blog reader for long (I started when I had my daughter, and I needed something quick and comforting for my sleep-deprived and addled brain). Nowadays, the blogs I read and enjoy are very few and far between--mostly, I suspect, since some of my very favorite writers are too busy to write on the interwebs these days. So here is my short list of what I consistently enjoy, and a plea for you to share your own favorites. Again, I would put more of my friends and favorites on this list, but I only want to direct you to actual, prolific writers. So here we go:


General Reading:

The Millions.

If you are not subscribed to the Millions, you should be. Everything you could ever want on anything book-related. I consistently find it engaging and fascinating, and they alternate short little news bursts with longer, thoughtful essays. My personal favorite staff writer is Nick Ripatrazone, a whip-smart Catholic guy. Here's the website.



Technically I started listening to the podcast first, then I ended up subscribing to the blog. I tend to bookmark these pieces and come back when I have time because well, they are long in form. Get it? But yeah it's like having the best non-fiction pieces from the internet (and print publications) curated for you on a variety of topics. So good. Here's the website.


Humans of New York

Pictures of . . . humans. Mostly in New York, but not always. With a quote or a caption or something underneath. Bound to make your hearts swell or burst or shrink within itself. This was a great discovery for me in 2014, and I ain't going back. Find the website here



And . . . that's it. There are a few others I subscribe to and I like some (but not all) of the content. Places like The Toast, Good Letters, Red Letter Christians, The Curator, Christ and Pop Culture . . . but all of these are all over the map (which can be a good thing, but also means I can't unilaterally endorse, nor do I always click on through). 



Personal Blogs:

Flower Patch Farmgirl

Ok, the name alone cracks me up. Because it is SO not what I think of when I think of Shannon. I am new to her blog, but I absolutely adore it. She is all over the map. She writes about poverty and privilege and trying to live simply and adoption and salsa and jeans and systematic racism. There is something for everyone (and conversely, something for everyone to not like so much. Which again, I adore). While I could care less about decorating tips (which she has!) I so appreciate the breath of fresh air she brings to the internet, and the whole I-Am-A-White-Lady-Who-Lives-And-Works-In-A-Diverse-Neighborhood thing. Because it gets real complicated there. There is a balance of emotional honesty and respecting privacy that never gets easier. I don't make the same choices as Shannon in this regard, but I view her as an important voice in communities I have no stake in. Also she is super funny. I won't insult her by calling her space a "mom blog" but it shares a few characteristics--and if you only had the option to read one, I would pick hers. 


Shirt of Flame

This is Heather King's blog, and never do I ever not adore it. I found out about Heather by reading her essay which appeared in a best-American non-required reading collection (I forget which year). She wrote about her awesome, diverse, low-income neighborhood and it just teemed with verve and joy. Then I read a few of her books and liked them (always a sucker for a sobriety/catholic memoir) but it is her blog that shines. She is cantankerous and holy and what she says about poverty and wealth makes me want to stand on a chair and cheer (and also sometimes convert to Catholicism). I hope I am like her in a few decades. Go on over and read her blog here. 


Fosterhood in NYC

I have written about this one before, but I will say it again: the best source of real-life information on what the foster care system in America is like. I am always stunned at the wells of empathy that Rebecca has not only for her children, but for the workers in the system and the birth parents and extended families who are most affected by it all. Truly stunning stuff happening. While she is not a religious person, I see the upside-down kingdom in all of her writings. Follow her along on her journey here.



Again, that's about it. I mean, I have amazing friends and total writer crushes who technically have blogs--but they just don't write on them consistently enough to post here.

This is what I mean when I say I need a few more recommendations.

So please, share away in the comments! What spaces/blogs on the internet are you currently obsessed with? Please share!









christmas bonanza!


j/k, people.

But srsly. I like talking about advent as much as the next person, and I also really like curling up on the couch and watching a good ol' secular holiday movie. I have a bit of a suspicion that you do to, if you grew up anywhere in western culture. This is the dichotomy we were served, that we ate up with abandon: our most spiritual of days blended with capitalism, consumerism, a misplaced sense of longing.

In years past I tried to combat this. I got really into the Advent Conspiracy, Buy Nothing Christmas, and have for quite some time now made horrible, horrible presents for people (my poor family). I also passed out Thanksgiving food boxes, brought my refugee friends chocolates and oranges and delivered toys to their homes. I felt good, about these actions; I was taking back Christmas.

Except, it was still all about me. My holy endeavors, my enlightenment, my charitable heart. And in their own way, most of my actions still revolved around what I wanted (to feel good, to feel free, to feel righteous). I have always wanted to be the holy rebel, the non-consumer, the self-righteous advocate for the voiceless. But as I am learning, every day, even these actions scream of my own poverty, of how hard it is to be in relationship with people in my life. I would rather write a blog about all that is wrong in the world than engage intimately with its people. I would rather scorn other's choices than inspect my own selfishness. I would rather deliver presents (made in a sweatshop!) than spend the entire day with people so different from me because . . . I want Christmas to be my way. I don't want to change everything about my life. If I invite alchololics over than that puts a damper on things. If I have muslims over then I have to dress differently, eat differently. If I have one of my crazy locavore friends over than I have to spend an arm and a leg at the co-op to make a meal that comes from sustainable places . . .

I don't want it. As much lip service as I pay to justice, it becomes clear I don't want it. I am fine with staying poor in relationships, because it allows me to do what suits me and mine, much better. So in the past, I have rushed head-long into charity, into finding small ways of helping that fit into my already-solidified life. Some of these made it into my Christmas rituals, and I am now in the slow process of purging them. I am moving beyond Advent Conspiracy here; I am starting to find out that everything is tied into relational poverty, in my inability to get down to the muckety-muck of those around me. And thus, Christmas is starting to feel joyous again, as I look to the supreme example of someone who gave up everything of himself for the love of us. I feel a great hope, actually.

Now how did we get here? I was just going to write a little post talking about some of my favorite, silly, cultural expressions of this season that mean something to me. I guess you can take the girl out of the conspiracy but you can't take the conspiracy out of the girl. Or something like that. But I am starting to believe: as we move from living in a season of charity to a life of justice, there is room for these small celebrations.

Feel free to share yours as well, as I suspect many of us are on this journey of figuring out what to do with our weird holidays. So here is what gets me, D.L., into a holly jolly mood:

1. Old-Timey Christmas Music.

Srsly. On spotify look up Doris Day singing Christmas music. I love it! Plus: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin. Also, I found this amazing video of Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing Little Drummer Boy. You're Welcome.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fulrewj6Noo]

2. This Amazing Nativity Video.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWq60oyrHVQ]

This is what happens when hipsters re-create the nativity scene with their children! And the accents! I die, I die. And my toddler loves it too. I am happy that she now thinks that when Jesus was born there was a giant, kid-friendly rave at the beach. Perfect.

3. Subversive Crafts-As-Gifts

I wish I could show you some pictures of the "art" I am making for people this year. Oh family, you have no idea what's coming!

4. Kids Crying When They Meet Santa

This is my favorite thing ever. Just google it.

5. Unexpectedly Amazing Christmas Movies.

Love Actually (warning: langauge/nudity alert. but ya'll can fast forward. or buy the edited version--like my mother-in-law).

You could use this movie as a personality test. What is your favorite sub-plot, and why? I am partial to the Colin Firth one, as an ESL teacher ("Just in cases"!) but the storyline between the Rock Star and his manager makes me giggle-cry all the time.

Little Women

Classic. It opens at Christmas-time, so this makes it Christmas-y, right?

Classic Claymation Christmas movies

Am I the only adult person that thinks claymation is magical? I don't think so. Rudolph was awesome, but my family grew up watching a Claymation Christmas, which you should definitely check out. Or just watch this clip:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gs--phzj2TQ]

The California Raisins! Children of the 80s, Unite!


This might be my most favorite Christmas movie ever. Danny Boyle (28 hours, SlumDog Millionare) directed this amazingly beautiful, slightly tense story of a young boy who talks to saints and gets embroiled in a robbery. This one makes me sob big, fat tears. You must promise me you will find this video and watch it. Please?

6. Good Thoughts on Advent

I have a lot of cool internet friends. And a lot of them are writing about Advent. My friend Amy is doing it for the entire month, which you should totes check out. My friend Kelley expressed the ache so well, and my friend Addie talks about Christian cliches and depression (so good!).

So there's my grown-up Christmas list. Some of the stuff I have been into, as we live out our lives in the dark and the cold and the bright. What about you?

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