This is another post I’m writing early because Friday at 5, I’ll be hurtling down I-81 on my way to Tennessee for the weekend. It will be my first time doing the long drive with David by my side, not waiting for me at the end of the journey. Wild.
I have a few good reads for you this week, but first consider donating to help the Houston area in recovering from the storm and waves of flooding.
- The Twelve Stages of Burnout. I’ve talked about this article with like 5 different people since I read it. Burnout is going to be something we’re all talking about in the next year, I think – from floods to political activism to an economy that is squeezed dry, we’re all working harder than ever and feeling drained. Self-care is one antidote, but remember that resilience is not always a virtue and that it’s okay to just stop for the day. It’s also okay and important to ask for help, and to seek care that doesn’t come from yourself alone.
- This Buttercream Kills Fascists, Eater. This is a good read because it doesn’t fawn over Tina Fey, whose flopped SNL skit is the most bare-minimum, back-patting white feminism (LET THEM EAT CAKE!?), but it does dig into some pastry-as-protest moments in history. “Food isn’t the only thing that’s politics — look at anything closely enough, you’ll start seeing the levers and seams, and once you’ve adjusted your eyes to it, it never really leaves your field of vision.”
- The Alternative to Thinking All the Time, Raptitude. I went to my first guided meditation this week, and I can’t wait to try it again. This article talks about mindfulness as “tasting” the flavors of the everyday.
- Roxane Gay on Lust, InStyle. Roxane Gay always.
- This is How Your Fear & Outrage Are Being Sold for Profit, Medium. Great visualizations in this article, and a more worthwhile contribution to the whole “What shall we do about fake news?” conversation than most pieces.
Happy eclipse week everybody, I hope you’ve taken advantage of this bizarre astral energy! This week’s five were hard to pick, so I have some bonus features at the bottom of the post:
- What If We Cultivated Our Ugliness? or: The Monstrous Beauty of Medusa by Jess Zimmerman. "I looked great with my haircut, but ‘great’ in the sense of ‘a vast and incalculable thing.’" SO good. This article also talks about how meeting the very narrow standard of beauty might ensure visibility for good and bad, and if you’re *not beautiful* you are invisible. But there’s a certain, tantalizing power in embracing the word ugly…“Better for them to be afraid. Better for them to think they’ll turn to stone.” READ this.
- “Hymn” by Sherman Alexie. “So you love your sibling? Big fucking surprise. // But how much do you love the strange and stranger? / Hey, Caveman, do you see only danger // When you peer into the night? Are you afraid / Of the country that exists outside of your cave?”
- Jane Austen’s Most Widely Mocked Character is Also Her Most Subversive, Rachel Dunphy. This is an interesting read into a character I’ve found sympathetic over the years of re-reading. I do think "most subversive” is too generous, but I can see Austen using Mrs. Bennett as a mouthpiece for the unfairness of the entail stuff and how women can’t inherit. I think we are meant to conclude that behind the silliness and social grasping of Mrs. Bennett and her friends is a mother’s horror at the dismal fate of women who can’t find a husband to care for them.
And I have some major side-eye to this essay for condemning the scandal around Lydia’s “premarital sex,” as if the only objection we have to a sexual relationship between a naive 15 year old and a grown man is whether they’re married or not.There’s some good push-back in the comments, but I’d be interested in your thoughts here as well!
- The Faces Behind Craigslist’s Strictly-Platonic Personal Ads I didn’t think I’d get as engrossed in this article as I did. I finished it with a sense of universal empathy and a little like I’d been spying on people.
- The White Lies of Craft Culture “The character of craft culture, a special blend of bohemianism and capitalism, is not merely overwhelmingly white — a function of who generally has the wealth to start those microbreweries and old-school butcher shops, and to patronize them — it consistently engages in the erasure or exploitation of people of color whose intellectual and manual labor are often the foundation of the practices that transform so many of these small pleasures into something artful.”
What a week, people. With all the (very good, exciting, but sometimes scary!) changes in my life, I have been struggling with a depression/anxiety combo that has me feeling as uneasy as a Taco Bell/KFC combo. Not to mention the terror in Charlottesville. Well, here’s some stuff I read this week:
- Charlottesville and the Effort to Downplay Racism in America, The New Yorker. “The belief that America is somehow better than its white-supremacist history is sometimes an excuse masquerading as encouragement, and it’s part of the reason the K.K.K. is back in business. What happened in Charlottesville is less an aberrant travesty in a progressive enclave than it is a reminder of how much evil can be obscured by the appearance of good.”
- To Be More Productive, Try Angling Your Morning Toward What Brings You Joy. I have been living alone in a new house for about a month now, and mornings have been the best part. Today, I sat on the floor with my back against an overstuffed pillow with a book and a cup of coffee. I like this idea of starting your morning with joyful tasks.
- Finally Reading Nora Ephron, The Attic on Eighth. This is a lovely little essay on Nora Ephron’s writing and that jives with me because I recently devoured The Most of Nora Ephron, which includes almost all of her food writing and feminist essays as well as Heartburn in full and the screenplay for When Harry Met Sally. She’s truly one of my writing heroes because she sees her life as material and can turn a dark twist into something quotable and often redeemable. The touches of melancholy and anger are subtle enough to bear repeated re-reads and re-watches, and will guide you through.
- How to be a Contemporary Writer by Roxane Gay. Classic advice that is sound and centralizes the dedicated practice of writing.
- We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby. I haven’t finished this book yet but it’s dark and damn funny and so good so far.
I know it’s been a little bit more than a Friday since you’ve heard from me but since no one knows this blog exists I’m in the clear! Now to this week’s round-up:
- Why We Fell For Clean Eating – The Guardian A really upsetting and fascinating look at the destructive food and diet trends from the last few years. I’m a grown woman and I still struggle against the aspirational/charismatic Instagrammers, so I’m worried for younger and more vulnerable girls on social media.
- Jenny Slate’s excellent podcast interview includes a weird first date story everyone was sharing last week, but there’s also a beautiful section where she talks earnest 3-year plan.
- Notes On a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Manic Depression by David Leite. There’s something about his writing voice and his story that really draws you in. I’m almost halfway through and eager to see where his story goes.
- O Esperanza! by Catherine Barnett. “…his sense of the holy was bound up with the hope / that some day our remote descendants will live in a global civilization / in which love is pretty much the only law.”
- Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel. The story “Dragons & Giants” is particularly adorable.