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New book extols virtues of naps, TV, and weekends

‘Laziness Does Not Exist’ reveals downside of overachieving

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Laziness Does Not Exist, gay news, Washington Blade
(Image courtesy Atria)

‘Laziness Does Not Exist’
By Devon Price, Ph.D.
c.2021, Atria $27/247 pages

Assume this position.

Feet up, head back, fingers laced over your belly. Eyes shut. Teeth unclenched. And there you are: ready for a nap – if you dare, if you have your work finished, if you can ignore the nagging feeling that there are things left undone, if you can stop feeling judged. Impossible? Not so, if you’ve read “Laziness Does Not Exist” by Devon Price, Ph.D.

A 9-to-5 job sure would be great, wouldn’t it? You’re snorting now, aren’t you? Because you get to the office early, sprint all day, say “yes” to everything lobbed at you, leave work by the moon, stagger home, and fall into bed the second you get there.

Price was that way, too, for most of their life. They say that their childhood was spent achieving more than most kids because both their parents insisted on it. That was happily doable although after a while, Price noticed that some of their classmates were labeled as “lazy” and “[l]azy kids didn’t have futures.”

For centuries – in business, movies, and pop culture – we’ve quietly been led to believe “The Laziness Lie,” which has three main facets: we are only worth what we can accomplish; our feelings and limits can’t be trusted; and we can’t ever do enough. These beliefs, once absorbed, can cause health problems, burn-out, relationship problems, and more through overwork and under-confidence. In their job as a teacher, Price sees it all the time.

In combating The Laziness Lie, Price says to realize that overwork doesn’t deserve a badge of honor. Reframe your idea of “lazy” through compassion; they point out, for instance, that surviving homelessness is hard work. Listen to your body: taking care of yourself is absolutely not “lazy,” and taking time off is essential to your health. Remember that “you can work only so much,” physically and mentally. Get off social media and turn the news off sometimes. And “stop fearing [your] inner ‘laziness,’” Price says. Do it, and you can “build [a] healthy, happy, well-balanced” life.

Weekends are good. Binge-watching your favorite TV show: good. Naps: very good. “Laziness Does Not Exist”: likewise good.

With a clarion call tailor-made for new work-at-homers who can no longer leave work at work, author and social psychologist Devon Price gives readers plenty of reason to kick back and put their feet up sometimes, showing that doing so can actually enhance productivity. There’s an abundance of illustrative stories here with compassion featured strongly, for self and for women, marginalized workers, BIPOC, and LGBTQ workers; in that, Price shows how deep the word “lazy” goes and why it’s so wrong. Readers are then offered ideas, including exercises, that can help undo the damage of the word and its associated meanings – it’ll take work, no pun intended – and hidden reasons why waiting really isn’t an option.

Not just for the overachiever, this book should sit on the desk next to every home printer and cubicle keyboard. Find “Laziness Does Not Exist,” stretch, take a comfortable seat, and you’re in a good position to enjoy.

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Books

Bisexual journey ‘Greedy’ is a book to share

A tale of universal experiences – rejection, love, vulnerability

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(Book cover image courtesy of Atria)

‘Greedy: Notes from a Bisexual Who Wants Too Much’
By Jen Winston
c.2021, Atria $18/336 pages

Share, and share alike.

That may, in retrospect, be the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard. You’re not asking for the stars and the moon; you just want what you want and why pass it around? As in the new book “Greedy” by Jen Winston, who’d ever think that getting what you deserved to have was wrong?

Back in the “aughts,” when Jen Winston was rocking her AIM handle and pretending to be boy-crazy, she had no word for liking boys and girls – though she knew she did. Had she questioned anyone, she would have been told that it was a phase, an experiment, or a matter of confusion but she never asked. She instinctively knew that doing the “gay stuff” was hard.

As she grew up and learned the word for what she felt, the idea of being with a woman became more appealing but not quite comfortable. Yes, Winston quietly told herself she was bisexual, but bisexuality “never felt queer enough.” Besides, dating straight men was like the equivalent of “comfort food,” though it never worked and was really not much fun.

Various roommates through the years indulged in her search for love, though, by crowdsourcing answers to questions posed by online dates. They also looked the other way as Winston learned that self-pleasure could be ugly, and she didn’t want to be “U-G-L-Y.” She tried threesomes but they were loaded with potential rejection; she tried chatrooms but they were scary. She learned that “we” is a painful word when you’re not part of it.

Bisexuality comes with a lot of frustrating myths and bisexual people, says Winston, are sometimes not included in the LGBTQ community. Bi people aren’t especially promiscuous – they’re not trying to steal your partner from you – and they’re not all just white or female. They are well aware that dating sucks, fairy tales are hard to believe in, and that there are lots of different ways to be gay.

You want it all: You want hearts and romance but you also want down and dirty. You want to be heard, but you don’t want to talk about it. You want to be enough but not so much that it’s weird. And you want it with laughs, though that’s not the main thing about this book.

While its cover indicates lightheartedness and author Jen Winston seems perfectly happy to tell funny, tongue-in-cheek tales about herself, “Greedy” sports a serious vein that almost feels like a shout. Winston writes of universal experiences – rejection, falling in love, vulnerability, and wanting so much to be adored – and she makes light of them in a way that clearly isn’t meant to be all that humorous. We can chuckle, yes, but she also lets us pretend that we don’t care about those hurts – even though, like Winston, we all know that we do.

Be aware that there are chapters here that are very graphic and are not appropriate for just anyone. If Winston’s journey is your journey, too, though, “Greedy” is something to share.

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Books

Oscar Wilde comes alive in new book

His ‘defiant individualism’ made him ‘more approachable, more exciting’

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(Image courtesy of Alfred A. Knopf)

Oscar Wilde: A Life
By Matthew Sturgis
c. 2021, Alfred A. Knopf
$40/838 pages

The life of playwright and queer icon Oscar Wilde was wittier and more tragic than most any dramatist could imagine.

To capture Wilde’s life and spirit in a bio is a daunting task. Wilde, himself, may not have been up to it. Yet, in “Oscar Wilde: A Life,” Matthew Sturgis, an historian, makes Wilde’s story come alive.

Maybe you don’t know that Wilde, born in Dublin, lived from 1854 to 1900; that, early on, he wanted to obtain “success, fame or even notoriety;” or that, while lecturing in America, he was kissed by Walt Whitman.

Even so, you’ve likely heard of Wilde. In LGBTQ+ history, Wilde, who spent two years in prison for “acts of gross indecency with other male persons” is a hero for not denying his sexuality.

If you’ve been to the theater, to a dinner party or to a Starbucks, you’ve likely encountered Wilde’s wit. “Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast,” Wilde’s line from “An Ideal Husband,” is emblazoned on one of my fave T-shirts.

“Oscar Wilde is part of our world,” Sturgis writes.

One day, Sturgis went to the library at Columbia University to look at one of Wilde’s letters. On his way to Columbia, he encountered quotes from Wilde everywhere he looked.

“I passed a chalkboard outside an Irish bar scrawled with the legend ‘Work is the curse of the Drinking Classes,’” Sturgis writes. “Opposite me on the uptown subway sat a girl whose mobile phone case carried the slogan ‘To live is the rarest thing in the world.’”

It’s hard to think of an author, other than Shakespeare, Mark Twain or Charles Dickens, who is more omnipresent in the culture. “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “An Ideal Husband” and Wilde’s other plays are still performed and he’s been a character on stage and screen, Sturgis writes.

Before Allen Ginsberg or Andy Warhol, there was Wilde. Before Gatsby, Wilde invented himself.
In the 1880s, Wilde, because he’d become famous for being famous, went on a lecture tour of America. Louisa May Alcott and Ulysses S. Grant hung out with him. He drank whiskey with miners. Crowds came to hear him talk about art and to bask in his celebrity and eccentricity. Wilde was friends with the actresses Ellen Terry and Lily Langtree, and it was rumored that he’d walked about London with a lily in his hand. Yet, despite his hobnobbing with celebs, Wilde isn’t a lightweight cultural figure.

“Wilde’s defiant individualism, his refusal to accept the limiting constraints of society, his sexual heresies, his political radicalism, his commitment to style,” Sturgis writes, “all conspire to make him ever more approachable, more exciting, and more relevant.”

“Oscar Wilde: A Life” is the first major bio of Wilde since Richard Ellmann’s 1987 biography.
Ellmann, a literary critic, focused a great deal on Wilde’s work. Ellmann’s book illuminates his literary output. Wilde’s work ranged from the novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray” to fairy tales which, Wilde said, he wrote “partly for children, and partly for those who have kept the childlike faculties of wonder and joy.”

Sturgis, who had access to newly discovered transcripts and testimony from Wilde’s trials along with letters and early notebooks of Wilde’s, sheds light on Wilde’s life.

It’s well-known that Wilde was sent to prison for two years, and that he died a few years later in Paris in poverty.

But Sturgis makes it vividly clear what a cad Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred (Bosie) Douglas was. Sturgis makes you feel how awful it was for Wilde to be in prison where he was isolated, his hair was cropped and the food was gross. It’s heartbreaking to read how his wife Constance prohibited Wilde from seeing their two sons and changed the family name to Holland.

It’s easy to forget that until his trials and imprisonment, Wilde led a rich, colorful, productive life. With Sturgis as guide, we’re with Wilde as he hangs out at Oxford, meets Andre Gide in Paris, chats with Sarah Bernhardt and lusts after rent boys.

For a Wilde ride, check out “Oscar Wilde: A Life.”

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Books

‘Allies’ helps young readers to show up

Straight talk with a light touch and accepting you will screw up

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‘Allies: Real Talk about Showing Up, Screwing Up, and Trying Again’
Edited by Shakirah Bourne & Dana Alison Levy
c.2021, $16.99/ 240 pages

You’d do anything for your friends.

You help them in school when they need it, or with a loan in a pinch. Your home is their home, and vice versa. You might share clothes with your friends, seats, secrets and for sure, support but what about people you don’t know that well? In the new book “Allies” by various authors, you start upright and on your feet.

School has started and some kids – kids of color, queer kids, different kids – are struggling. You want to help but you don’t know how to even begin. So now what?

The first thing to know about being an ally is in the first chapter of this book: You will screw up sometimes. It’s not fun, it’s comfortable, and you can’t just dump your guilt back on whoever you’re trying to support. Instead, learn from it, and get used to it.

But wait. Can’t you help?

“It’s complicated,” says Dana Alison Levy, the first author.

You can loudly be an ally, but when it’s not your time to speak, then hush. Allies remember that pronouns are important things (see above: you’ll screw up) and when someone reveals their preferred name, an ally makes sure it’s used. Allies know that the letters “LGBTQIA” don’t stop at “G.” When they see someone with a disability, they don’t rush in and act like superheroes. They ask first if they can help, and they never see a disabled person as a “tool” to get extra privileges. Likewise, they don’t finish sentences for a stutterer and it should go without saying that allies are never bullies. Nope, they reach for understanding, and if they don’t understand, they can be schooled.

Being an ally doesn’t stop at sexuality or disability, though. You can be an ally for women by standing up to misogyny. You can stand up by seeing color and acknowledging it. You can stand up and admit that there are things you’ll never experience.

And sometimes, being an ally is knowing when it’s time to walk away.

When it comes to being a better friend to those who need one, you always want to do what’s right – but sometimes, right is wrong and arrrrgh! It seems like maybe you need something of an ally to be an ally, and this book can help.

With straight talk but a light touch, “Allies” helps young readers dispense with the awkwardness of not knowing how to act, through reassuring stories meant to show that merely just showing up is a great start. The chapters aren’t long – some are told with artwork – and they’re as diverse as the writers themselves. They’re not preachy, either: Each is told by an appreciative person who’s received much-needed support and others whose eyes were opened, giving readers the upbeat, forward-looking, I-can-do-this feeling they might get in the eager moments before a march or a rally.

That makes “Allies” a great first step for any progressive-thinking 12-to-18-year-old who needs a good launch-point. Find this book, read it, and share it with your friends.

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