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Dublin: 8 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: Tonya Harding is ready for her apology

Grab a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. I, Tonya

75th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals Tonya Harding arrives at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards Source: Jordan Strauss

As her story is told on the big screen in new film I, Tonya, the disgraced skater Tonya Harding (now Tonya Price) tells her side of the story.

(New York Times, approx 26 mins reading time)

You can’t run from being Tonya Harding, is the point. Even if you wanted to, even if you tried, and yes, she’s tried. “I moved from Oregon to Washington because Oregon was buttheads,” she said. Then, with mock apology, “I disappointed them. It’s like, how can I disappoint a whole state? Wait a second, how can I disappoint a whole country?” Oregon had been so proud when their own Tonya Harding was the first American female figure skater to land a triple axel jump in competition. Then what happened happened, and people turned on her. So she confronts it head on, the way she always has.

2. Making a pencil

There’s something soothing and fascinating about this photo essay from the New York Times about a pencil factory.

(New York Times, approx 7 mins reading time)

 Red pencils wait, in orderly grids, to be dipped into bright blue paint. A worker named Maria matches the color of her shirt and nail polish to the shade of the pastel cores being manufactured each week. One of the company’s signature products, white pastels, have to be made in a dedicated machine, separated from every other color. At the tipping machine, a whirlpool of pink erasers twists, supervised patiently by a woman wearing a bindi.

3. I started the media men list

When Moira Donegan started a list of ‘shitty media men’ in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct, she wanted to help other women. But then the list went viral.

(The Cut, approx 18 mins reading time)

None of this was what I thought was going to happen. In the beginning, I only wanted to create a place for women to share their stories of harassment and assault without being needlessly discredited or judged. The hope was to create an alternate avenue to report this kind of behavior and warn others without fear of retaliation. Too often, for someone looking to report an incident or to make habitual behavior stop, all the available options are bad ones.

4. Batten Disease

Connor Beish has Batten Disease, after being diagnosed while a toddler. Here, his family talk about the toll the disease has had on his life, and theirs.

(Atavist, approx mins reading time)

Words came slowly to Conner. By his second birthday, he’d mastered about ten of them; at that age, the number should have been at least 50. “I assumed it was because Jaxon would always speak for him,” Hollie said, something big brothers often do. “Sometimes I thought maybe he was just shy.” The Beishes’ pediatrician said not to worry, that some children gain words in bursts. Family and friends were also reassuring. “They would joke that once he started talking, he wouldn’t stop,” Jeff recalled. Months passed and Conner’s progress was still glacial. The Beishes took him to a speech pathologist.

5. ‘My daughter died, but I’m still mothering her’

shutterstock_698844496 Source: Shutterstock/YuryYury

Jacqueline Dooley writes about the process of losing her daughter to cancer, and what that meant to her as a mother.

(Longreads, approx 20 mins reading time)

I cannot understate the importance of acceptance. For years, I had not truly believed her disease would kill her. I’d convinced myself through hope and denial, that somehow she would survive. Once I accepted that she was going to die, it removed the barrier of denial and enabled me to ask critical questions I’d been avoiding…

6. Dying well

Welcome to the latest obsession: death. Here, Marisa Meltzer writes about people’s quest to make death as good as it can be, and how “dying well has become a defining obsession of our time”.

(The Guardian, approx 20 mins reading time)

If you fancy an environmentally friendly burial, you can choose to be wrapped in a biodegradable artisanal shroud, decorated to your specifications by the bespoke company Vale for $545. (It’s just $68 for pets.) Or you can be buried, as the celebrated California chef Alice Waters says she wants to be, in a burial pyjama suit seeded with mushrooms that help your body decompose more quickly. A few years ago, artist Jae Rhim Lee delivered a Ted talk while wearing one such suit – a black hooded one-piece threaded with white veins infused with mushroom spores.


Abraham Lincoln had a lifelong struggle with depression. Here, Joshua Wolf Shenk writes that he believes this gave Lincoln “the tools to save the nation”.

(The Atlantic, approx 40 mins reading time)

Lincoln’s look at that moment—the classic image of gloom—was familiar to everyone who knew him well. Such spells were just one thread in a curious fabric of behavior and thought that his friends called his “melancholy.” He often wept in public and recited maudlin poetry. He told jokes and stories at odd times—he needed the laughs, he said, for his survival. As a young man he talked more than once of suicide, and as he grew older he said he saw the world as hard and grim, full of misery, made that way by fate and the forces of God.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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