Post in the New Year

congresswomen2013 is here and already people are waving their fists at the sky in frustration. Mitch McConnell of the US Senate is angry his congressional colleagues want to take up gun control debates on the floor. Murmurs from DC point to anger over the nominations of Chuck Hagel to head the Department of Defense and of John Kerry to lead State. Shooting victims from Aurora, Colorado, bemoan the possible trial of the Man Who Would be Joker, and the Hell’s Angels rode en masse to Connecticut to obstruct the Westboro Baptist Church from protesting at the Newtown victims’ funerals. If any of us had any hope that the end of the election could bring down the vitriol a notch or two, we had another thing coming. Glenn Beck may be relegated to the superhighway, but Ann Coulter continues to get attention for saying this jackass thing or that, and the Tea Party continues its clamp down on legislative productivity.

Therefore, I propose a few things for the sane among us to get through these trying times:

Watch the new women of the House and Senate: Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren might have made the news circuit when they were snapped at orientation, but there are a whole host of terrific women joining the legislature this year, including Tammy Duckworth, Mazie Hirono, Heidi Heitkamp, Kristen Sinema, Elizabeth Esty, and Joyce Beatty. With likely debates this year on gun control, budget cuts, and immigration reform, I’m looking to see how some of these new members make their voices heard in the conversation. The 112th Congress is dead. Long live the 113th Congress.

The return of some favorite television shows: Breaking Bad will host its conclusion in mid-year, with a scant eight episodes carved out of its previous season. The last we saw of anything, a certain DEA agent was parked on the throne, flipping through a book of poetry. How the experiment of protagonist’s descent into evil will wind up is still anybody’s guess. Mad Men also returns for another season and producers insist they’re going to “shake things up.” Because these characters’ lives have been so stable until now?

Anticipated trans reading: Pick up Nevada by Imogen Binnie when it comes out on April 2. (Full disclosure–I’ll have a review of her novel very soon, probably over at Bitch’s blog.) T Cooper’s Real Man Adventures has also just come out, so go read it. McSweeny’s wouldn’t steer you wrong. S. Bear Bergman is working on a new book project, and Red Durkin is poised to blow up the stuffy literary world with the release of her first novel, Ready, Amy, Fire. More generally, get away from the Amazon best seller list, go to the closest independent bookstore, and buy from them directly. Read outside of your usual preferred genres and shake up your reading world a little.

Turn off the Internet: I mean, you could finish reading this paragraph first. But I plan to extend my advice from last year to stop reading the comments to online political posts (or anything posted on Yahoo!, CNN, and Huffington Post), and just take breaks from the information superhighway. Screen readers have their place, but try one of the books listed above in paper format, and leave your smartphone on the other side of the room.

Here’s to a brand spanking new year.

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Categories: Pop Culture

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