my lovely lady links 8-26

i am rediscovering my high-school interest in impressionism:

Victorine Meurent in Manet's Olympia
Victorine Meurent in Manet’s Olympia

Victorine Meurent is remembered as Manet’s favorite model and the nude star of his controversial paintings le Dejeuner sur l’Herbe and Olympia, but in this 2008 article, the Guardian explains that she was also a painter in her own right and who SURPRISE SURPRISE has been abused when not neglected by history. i mean she got into the 1876 Salon when Manet was rejected which you can look back and say that doesn’t mean much because what ended up in the Salon was not always what history has celebrated but you’d be an ass not to acknowledge how prestigious that was at the time.

Meurent's own Palm Sunday
Meurent’s own Palm Sunday

the BBC has a three-part (three hours) factual docudrama on the Impressionists on youtube

do you have to be racist, sexist, or otherwise an asshole to be funny? i was like NO WAY but then i read this article on the fader wherein they interviewed six actual comedians and now i’m like “he value of making my joke funny is far more important than the value of making my joke comfortable” which still kinda sounds like bullshit to me?

and now i am remembering wanda sykes’s bit about the detachable pussy, widely-hailed as like the one funny joke about rape (though for my money vagina dentata are pretty funny)

you can’t actually start talking about clarice lispector without noting that nobody knows who she is, but for somebody that we usually get to be like “you probably haven’t heard of her”, she keeps showing up in my life: here’s a podcast of a couple of her short stories on selected shorts (fucking listen to it, the writing and the reading are amazing) and here’s a review of a book I now want to read, based on lines from a Lispector story:

Having no dolls to play with, and maternity already pulsating terribly in the hearts of those orphans, the sly little girls had concealed another girl’s death from the nun. They hid the corpse in a wardrobe until the nun left, and played with the dead girl, giving her baths and little snacks, punishing her just so they could kiss her afterward, consoling her.

samanatha irby god among women delivered the truth about shitty people on social media: block them and pretend they died

every time someone’s internet presence feels like a personal attack on my life i first try to have compassionate thoughts like “what if something terrible is happening in her life?” because even though we know it isn’t there’s still a very slim chance hell is real and i’d like to have a plausible defense of my actions on earth should there be some sort of way to argue my way out of damnation. but then i think, “well if she were actually suffering there’s no way she’d be spamming me links to all these pyramid schemes” and my guilt evaporates just long enough for me to click that block button so i can move on with my day. i’m a patient person and hesitant to alienate anyone who might have fifteen dollars lying around to buy my books, but it dawned on me the other day that for me, the internet has to be a meticulously curated digital space in which your uncle’s vaguely racist tweets have no place.

Roxane Gay on feminism and her book Difficult Women at the Appel Salon at the Toronto Public Library.

so i’m like a casual spectator of financial blogs and early retirement blogs like mr. money mustache and budgets are sexy, and a lot of them are committed to FIRE, which stands for Financially Independent, Retired Early…but since that requires busting your ass for however many years at first, and since a lot of those people who achieve it end up doing something that looks a whole lot like work anyway, this dude is advocating for HEAT: Half-Employed, Adjusted Living. that sounds kinda like what we are doing out here teaching english except for not really saving and not investing

this American Life episode on Afrofuturism. it’s on my to-listen list.

apparently abraham lincoln thought that once emancipated it would be a good idea for black americans to just remove themselves from the country since their presence was causing so much trouble among whites…but since it was black americans labor–blood, sweat, and tears–that built up the country, why should they leave? but how tragic is it to stay in a country where you sometimes feel you aren’t wanted? or to feel like there’s no country that really wants you? from Avidly

so in 2017 oh forget it nothing surprises me at this point, lord help us. some actual paid intellectuals think that white bourgeois culture is actually superior to other cultures and wrote an op-ed touting the awesomeness of family values and respect for authority…
look, those phrases are like 500lb suitcases that shouldn’t be tossed around carelessly and would take forever to unpack

This cultural script began to break down in the late 1960s. A combination of factors — prosperity, the Pill, the expansion of higher education and the doubts surrounding the Vietnam War — encouraged an anti-authoritarian, adolescent, wish-fulfillment ideal — sex, drugs and rock-and-roll — that was unworthy of, and unworkable for, a mature, prosperous adult society. This era saw the beginnings of an identity politics that inverted the color-blind aspirations of civil rights leaders like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into an obsession with race, ethnicity, gender and now sexual preference.

ugh i remember being spoonfed this pap at my conservative christian college…anybody else have to read Slouching Towards Gomorrah?


here’s a giant long interview with somebody about george harrison if that’s what you’re into. i was going to read it but i think if i just closed the tab and moved on i wouldn’t feel that bad.

yup. i feel fine.

Can the science of purpose help explain white supremacy? A sense of purpose makes us physically and psychologically stronger. But what if your purpose is hateful and destructive?

i am literally just copying and pasting stuff now i’m gonna call it

My Tabs 3-5-17

I have been feeling guilty about not blogging, but I have three or four hobbies that require more of my attention than I am giving them any given week. I consider cutting back, but limiting myself to just one goal at a time only guarantees I will waste more time watching TV or fucking about on Facebook. At least now when I am not writing, I am reading or hula hooping or playing guitar.

A much more successful woman than me once wrote that you ought to blog consistently so that your readers can learn to depend on you; that you ought to be the kind of friend you would want to have. That was my goal for a long time, realized now and then in brief spurts at the expense of everything else I enjoy doing, until I recognized that I have never been that kind of friend to anyone, and I don’t even appreciate that kind of friend. There are very few people I want to see regularly, and even fewer people that I want to see often. And it’s been my experience that the most dependable and reliable friends are the ones who demand dependability and reliability in return, which is fair, but that yoke chafes. I’ll take my chances with the flakes and the free spirits, knowing that my husband, my mom, and my siblings are never more than a phone call away.

A friend suggested that I do a kind of link round-up with all the things I have read. I took it as a compliment, with maybe the implication that I am posting too damn much on Facebook. Fair enough! I’ve tried spreading it over Instagram, Twitter, and my Facebook pages, but the tendency only seems to increase with the number of outlets. Somebody just needs to pay me to curate content. Until then, here is my latest version of a link round-up: all the tabs that I have open on my computer and phone, and maybe a few of the best things I’ve shared on Facebook or seen elsewhere.

Beautiful Taiwan, #nofilter #taichung

A post shared by Keili Rae Gunden (@amateur_vagrant) on

This is the first iteration, but I can’t promise it won’t be the only one. I can guarantee it won’t reappear at regular intervals.

      • I enjoy everything I read on Avidly. I just found this link to their stories about teaching. I wonder if I could submit something there? Anyone want to hear about the trials of being an introverted teacher with ADHD who is hypersensitive to noises?
      • Is everybody getting these Master Class ads all over Facebook now? I finally clicked on the one for James Patterson’s class. (This is not an affiliate link; I don’t make any money from anything on this site.)
      • Then I found this article written by writer Joyce Maynard who took Jame’s Patterson’s Master Class, James Patterson Teaches Writing. It didn’t compel me to sign up for the course, but it was a fun read.

        One woman wanted to know how she might protect herself from the danger that someone, seeing her writing on the site—including Mr. Patterson himself, perhaps—might rip it off. Having seen her work, I might have told her not to worry.    

        See how mean I can be? James Patterson would never say anything like that to one of his students, or dampen, in any way, their aspirations. To James Patterson, any one of us out there taking this class may be the next James Patterson. And if we aren’t… well, you don’t have to become Jimi Hendrix to get some joy out of fooling around on the guitar. And let’s not forget, Buddy Holly only played three chords.


      • I’m watching the 2014 movie Somewhere, Anywhere, Nowhere on Netflix. It’s a Taiwanese movie about two friends who spend six months traveling around the island. Here’s a review from the Taipei Times.
      • I always have a Goodreads tab open these days. I am trying to read 110 books this year. I’ve been two books behind for a couple of weeks now, but it’ll be okay.
      • Texas is often stereotyped as a bastion of the backward and conservative, a state where oppressive “family values” reign supreme, but things are starting to look left, according to this article from Harper’s.
      • Deeply disturbing: a black Muslim teen disappeared from his home in Seattle and was found a month later, hanged from a tree. With no history of mental illness or suicidal tendencies, the family is struggling to find out what happened to their beloved son.
      • Jeff Sessions is a liar who never should have been confirmed in the first place.
      • The French are laughing at our ridiculous president. I want to join them, if they’ll even let my American ass in after all this.
      • When you see a human being like Alicia Keys doing this musical impression game not only with Jimmy Fallon but also The Roots, and they have all these gigantic arsenals of talent, knowledge, and experience, cultivated over a lifetime…I am not sure that all humans are the same species. Or some of us should really just have gone to vocational school. Maybe I should be a truck driver. Hey Mav, you know the name of that truck driving school? Truck Master I think it is. I might need that.
      • In her essay We Brown Women, Miriam Rahmani unpacks the bigotry and hypocrisy in the language of the executive order/Muslim-ban “PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES.”

Who, after all, doesn’t want to be protected?

I don’t. My sisters don’t. Not this way, not by this administration, not by the white man.

    • 8 Feminists to Watch in 2017 from
    • I am wading through Simone de Beauvoir’s little book The Ethics of Ambiguity now, and I’ve queued up some supplementary reading for when I’m done. It’s been a damn long time since I’ve read a straight philosophy book and it is not like riding a bicycle. Having spent nearly a decade teaching ungrateful tiny people their ABCs has not been sufficient to keep my brain in peak form.
    • Knowing that Ruth Bader Ginsberg not only takes time to work out every day, but also could probably kick my butt, does not make me feel good about myself.
    • Whenever I want to start working out, this is where I have to start: 5 Simple Solutions for Anterior Knee Pain. (Apparently, I need to activate my glutes. If I am not actually a lazy ass, I do have one.)

And I’ll stop here. This list is actually only the tabs I had open on my computer, but I have about 50 open on my phone (don’t you judge me!) and this has already gone on long enough.

Amateur Vagrant Weekly Link Roundup Sep 30, 2016

I’ve started a bullet journal! While I loved the excuse, any excuse, to buy a new notebook and some colorful pens, I am not sure how this is different from any other notebook. But I’ll give it a sincere try through the end of the year, and continue in 2017 if it’s helping me be more productive.

I found this bullet-journaling blog called Tiny Ray of Sunshine, and it quickly became a new time suck for me.

This week, I read Beloved by Toni Morrison and This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The two books couldn’t be more different, and reading them back to back like that is an excellent way to make obvious the stark difference between the lives of poor, black people and rich, white people in late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century America. I intentionally started This Side of Paradise after I finished Beloved because I needed a chance to recover emotionally. But black people in the United States don’t get to recover before the next murder by cop, do they?

We had two days off this week for Typhoon Megi. Last week, we had a four-day weekend for Moon Festival that was mostly rained out because of two other typhoons, Meranti and Malakas.  We usually don’t get hit very hard when there’s a typhoon, but high winds can still make it dangerous to go outside.

The thing is, for most of us, most of the time, typhoons are just really bad weather that might result in us getting a day off. So we make jokes about stocking up with ramen and vodka, and we laugh at this determined lady eating her pork bun even as she’s losing her umbrella to the wind. But some people die in nearly every typhoon, so we can’t joke too much.

Here’s another thing that’s not funny at all: restrictive abortion laws that make it practically impossible to get an abortion. Imagine working retail, feeling lucky to even have that job, then having to request three days off from your manager (and having to lie about it, because you don’t need to tell everyone you’re trying to have an abortion), having to figure out a way to get across state (even gas is expensive), finding someone else to take care of your kids while you’re gone, finding the money for a hotel for two nights since you have to wait 72 hours from the time of your first exam until you can actually have an abortion–and imagine these “small” hurdles being so impossible that you end up having another kid. That’s fucked up, man. Well, Lady Parts Justice League came up with this spoof of Beyonce’s  Formation to spread information about the bullshit that is Louisiana’s abortion laws and regulations. Please note the stodgy, white, rich, old, male lawmakers making laws that have nothing to do with them (but I bet if they knocked up a mistress, they’d find a way past their own laws real fast). Ew.

Prep yourself to handle the next troglodyte that wants you to answer for “black-on-black” crime every time they hear about an innocent black person being executed without a jury during a routine traffic stop with this informative post. It’s mostly tweets, so yes, you do have time to read it.

This has been a problem since Emancipation — a broad interest in policing black communities sitting next to an entrenched indifference in actually protecting them. “Poor black neighborhoods see too little of the kinds of policing that do the most good, and too much of the kinds that do the most harm,” Eric Monkkonen, the late UCLA professor, once wrote.

And look, here’s a whole syllabus for a Black Lives Matter course. Let’s get informed, one book, one story, one article, one video, one movie, one day at a time. I love a good syllabus.

At the moment, I am finishing up a Yale series on Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner. If you’re as ignorant as I was  a year ago, read the books, listen to the lectures, and watch Midnight in Paris. Or don’t, because I’ve been heartsick in love with the Roaring Twenties and the Lost Generation and the Jazz Age since then, like I was in love with NKOTB when I was in fourth grade.

And oh yeah, of course, there were some debates or something this week. The brilliant Alexandra Petri called them The Mainsplaining Olympics and I’m with her. Honestly, Clinton couldn’t have made Trump look any dumber: the man got up there and bragged about not paying any taxes. But nothing he says will deter his supporters from voting for him, and there’s just too many of them. I don’t want him to win, but maybe if he does, we’ll all have to recognize America for what it is: backwards, racist, misogynistic, pharisaical, prude, and hypocritical. I’m a teacher and if I had to write comments on the report card, they would be “America is not living up to her potential.”

But between global warming (it’s worse now than scientists realized or predicted) and Plato’s observation like 2500 years ago that democracies give birth to tyrannies, does any of this even matter?

Ah, but being so cynical is naive, too.

Winner of the “No shit!” Award is this little piece from The Washington Post on the effect class size has on student learning. Apparently some people, probably not teachers, think that class size doesn’t matter.  IT MATTERS. Especially as a language teacher–the more kids in the class, the less opportunity I have to interact with your kid. Give me eighteen students, one or two with legit behavioral problems, and my goal goes down to each kid speaking once per hour class.

Fun stuff:

  • Taiwan was voted the friendliest country for newcomers* (apparently they didn’t take the terrifying driving conditions into account here)
  • Did you know that Taiwan is the Butterfly Kingdom? I love butterflies! I now have like ten more places on my must-visit list
  • Bad Bitches in the Canon: What if Anaïs Nin and Flannery O’Connor had been friends?

    O’Connor had something Nin did not, besides success as a fiction writer. What Nin needed more than any night of boning Henry Miller was to hang out with a person who could laugh at her and with her, who wasn’t trying to sleep with her, who wasn’t using her for her husband’s money, who read her writing for what it was instead of what it wasn’t. What her writing is, for the record, is fucking brilliant.

*does not apply to people from Southeast Asia hired as laborers or domestic help here in Taiwan

Links: Don’t quit your day job!

I know I’m not the only one who has been depressed on repeat because I haven’t been able to swing the location-independent freelancing, content-creating lifestyle–so I know I’m not the only one feeling some relief reading all these posts that have been popping up about how it is really hard–like, financially, physically, etc–to quit your paid work in a brick-and-mortar location to put yourself at the mercy of your talents and your clients.

And how if you don’t have or can’t acquire some capital to float you through the beginning or lean times in the future, you might never be able to make that leap.

And how if you don’t ever make the jump, you aren’t a failure. Everybody’s gotta eat, even some of us who are compelled to create.

Also I always never really grasped how some people make a living telling other people they could become bloggers who tell other people how to make a living become bloggers who tell other people how to make a living becomebloggershowtellotherpeoplehowtomakealivingmakealivingmakealiving…

That’s why this blog is called Amateur Vagrant and not Professional Vagrant.

Here are some links that might make you feel better about yourself if you’re feeling trapped because you’ve been convinced doing anything but your art or being anywhere but the beach makes you a failure.

Nah, man, it just makes you a multi-dimensional human.

Real Artists Have Day Jobs
Before there was a book, there was this post to tell you that if you are compelled to make art, you are an artist, even if you need to have a side gig to pay your bills.

Quitting Your Job to Pursue Your Passion is Bullshit
“Quitting your job to pursue your passion is bullshit. This messaging is only beneficial for privileged people and very dangerous for working class people.

The statement alone reeks of privilege. It confirms you had a full-time job to begin with. It confirms you had time to develop a passion (that you can capitalize off of, enough to meet your cost of living). It confirms you had the option to pursue something different because you feel like it. There are more challenges to being self-employed than just mental perseverance and grit. We are predatorily luring working class people into an entrepreneur lifestyle as the answer to living a meaningful life and loads of money. It’s the new American Dream.”

3 Compelling reasons why it’s not a good idea to quit your day job
Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? Don’t jump the gun and give up your paycheck before your baby business is strong enough to support you. Your day job
1. Gives you money.
2. Gives you time (in the form of money).
3. Keeps you sane (because you don’t have to worry so much about money).

And here you can eavesdrop on a conversation with two of my wisest friends:
A: I think all the stuff we read about quitting our day jobs leaves us with the impression that were not supposed to be content doing what we’re doing. If you’re happy teaching and writing at home, that’s okay. It’s actually great!
B: I remember reading a piece geared at photographers saying, basically, you can’t be an artist and a professional photographer at the same time. Because as a professional you’re stuck doing photo shoots to the specifications of clients. And that you’re better off as an amateur who can afford to take risks and play around with your style, etc. I think the same holds true for writing.
Me: I’ve been coming to that conclusion, slowly. I actually remember you talking about your dad before and his reasons for not baking pies full-time. And at the time, that made no sense to me. But I realize now I could probably be and could have been a freelance travel writer and like write for content mills, etc. But I know I really don’t want to do that so I haven’t explored that area much. And I realized like man, if I wanted to make ends meet as a freelance writer, that would be so much of what I had to do. And then what you said about your dad came back to me and I understood where he was coming from. He wants to bake pies, not run a business. That makes so much sense.
B: That said, I would still love to open a barbecue stand in Munich and drink beer all day.
Me: Dude, I wouldn’t even mind that gig and I know nothing about barbecue or beer.
B: Maybe that’s the key: Quit your job to do something you’re a little ambivalent about but that sounds fun. A way longer title for an article.

Links: Jean Rhys

Jean Rhys (1890-1979) is my favorite author.

Eavesdrop on two accomplished writers as they discuss the relationship the then-married Jean Rhys had with writer Ford Madox Ford and his wife Stella Bowen in Paris in the 1920s (1927?). All four went on to publish novels inspired by their tumultuous relationship(s).

It always baffles me that Jean Rhys was there with the Lost Generation–she was sleeping with her mentor, Ford, and she knew Ernest Hemingway and presumably met many other writers in artists in Ford’s network, which extended to “everyone”–but absent from books like Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation. Rhys doesn’t get so much as a footnote, but she was there.

Anyone who made it through high school in the States probably has read The Great Gatsby and at least one of Hemingway’s novels. Yet at the same time, critics have said that Rhys is as good or better Hemingway, but no one is reading her books or short stories.

I think sometimes people read Wide Sargasso Sea in college courses about colonialism, but not the others.

This article is enlightening in terms of the mystery of why Jean Rhys isn’t as well-known or celebrated as Hemingway and his peers from that era, although they all ran in the same circles: because she was a woman.

Ford genuinely liked Jean Rhys’s writing; in exchange for its publication she became his mistress simultaneously with Stella Bowen. Ford also liked Ernest Hemingway’s writing; in exchange for its publication he became a sub-editor of the Transatlantic Review.

Then Ford dumped her and cut her off financially.

Rhys published her first collection [of short stories] in 1927, and her first novel the following year. In the 1930s came three increasingly dark and accomplished novels, but the better she got, the less she was read. She published nothing for 20 years, until stories began appearing in the London Magazine in the early 1960s. In 1966, her final novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, brought her acclaim and a degree of financial security at the age of 76. Another two short-story collections appeared before her death in 1979. They include some of the best British short stories of the last century. [from A brief survey of the short story: Jean Rhys by Chris Power in The Guardian 14 April 2014]

Writer Paul Piazza in 1977 claimed of Rhys that “cleansed of any excess, her style is near perfect: not a scene, not a word, is wasted. Through a line of dialog or a mere sentence or two of description, Rhys compresses a life. The writer…is as swift and severe as strychnine.”

Tell me that doesn’t sound like something somebody would say about Hemingway’s writing? Yet I only came across Jean Rhys accidentally, just a few years ago, when I took a chance on her collected novels for $1 at a book fair in small-town Virginia. Not many readers have had even that much good luck and Rhys remains on the fringe.

I feel like ironically you have to already know about her if you want to seek her out, unless you find her four novels for $1 at a book fair.

And as far as I know, only her last novel Wide Sargasso Sea is available as an e-book. In my local library in the U.S., I couldn’t find any of her biographies, though I did find David Plante’s book “Difficult Women”: drunk, elderly Jean Rhys is the first accomplished female intellectual he profiled. Shame.

  • The prime of Miss Jean Rhys by Vanessa Thorpe in The Guardian (01 October 2006): a brief introduction of Jean Rhys and her writing with news about Lilian Pizzichini’s The Blue Hour, a biography published that year. The BBC also made a movie of Wide Sargasso Sea that I haven’t seen.
  • Dominica’s Literary Hero by Thomson Fontaine in The, Volume No. 1 Issue No. 23
  • The voice of Jean Rhys, late in life, on YouTube
  • Wide Sargasso Sea, the movies, one from 1993 and one from 2006 on YouTube (I haven’t watched either of these–I am afraid they will just disappoint me! It’s not just the story that’s interesting, which is the best reason to make a book into a movie. But Jean Rhys is such a masterful writer–how can that be captured on film?)
  • The trailer for the movie Quartet, based on Jean Rhys’s novel of the same name (the story of her relationship with Ford Madox Ford)