I Don't Hate It | What You've Been Looking For


Hey there. By the time this goes out, I will have closed the winter issue of the magazine I work for and submitted important paperwork for a grant. I will have spent my last Friday of the year in the office and started in on the backlog of laundry that managed to spill over the top of the hamper and eat half of my bedroom floor over the past couple of weeks while I wasn't looking.

I joined a gym in January, almost a year ago. One of the perks was a series of sessions with a trainer, a woman quite a bit older than me who is a badass in every way, with her Australian accent and purple-streaked grey hair and year-round tan (probably from all the marathons she runs). I don't get to the gym as often as I'd like, but I hardly ever miss a session with her. She has done wonders for me physically as well as mentally this year. So it was a bummer to have to cancel my membership earlier this week.

The news broke that the club, which has twelve locations in three states, had changed its policy on concealed weapons over the summer, without notifying members. The new policy—that members could carry a concealed weapon in the facility, as long as it was always on their person—seemed fairly irresponsible to me. Weapons can never be stored in a locker, for instance. This is a gym with pools and spa services (where do you put your gun while you swim, or while you're getting a massage? I probably don't want to know. I have the same question about where you put it while you shower.). This gym has a robust kids' program, including a preschool. Someone's gun fell out of a fanny pack during a meditation class.

I was interviewed about my decision. You can listen to part of the interview here. I got teary eyed emailing my trainer to cancel my next (and all future) sessions with her, but she understood and replied immediately to tell me that there had been a groundswell of opposition to the policy. And in fact, the next day, the club changed its policy such that guns are prohibited on the premises with the exception of law enforcement and club security officers. When my trainer emailed to tell me about it she said, "Power to the people!" I haven't decided if I'll return.

1. I've been reading Zadie Smith's Swing Time for months. I used any time I could find—during lunch, while getting gas, waiting in line at the pharmacy or at the doctor's office—to read a few chapters, making progress here and there until I finally finished it this weekend. It's a new novel from Zadie Smith! What more do you need? Go get it.

2. My book club, aptly named Wine Club with a Reading Problem, read Angela Flournoy's The Turner House for our December meeting. This is an intergenerational novel set in Detroit amid the 2008 recession and resulting housing crisis. I believe it was called "Dickensian" in some reviews. When I recommended it to a professional acquaintance via email a few weeks ago, she replied, "That sounds like just what I've been looking for!" Trust me: it's just what you've been looking for, too.

3. This afternoon I watched Ava DuVernay's masterful documentary 13th, available on Netflix. An examination of the US's increasing levels of (mass) incarceration post-1970, it features Bryan Stevenson, whose book I recommended earlier this year after meeting him and seeing him speak at the Virginia Festival of the Book, Van Jones, Angela Davis, Michelle Alexander, and a number of other familiar names/faces. Few things are truly "must-see"; this is.

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