It’s my brother’s wedding day! I’ve read almost nothing this week in preparation for today, but here’s one lovely quote:
A Blessing for Wedding
BY JANE HIRSHFIELD
Today when persimmons ripen
Today when fox-kits come out of their den into snow
Today when the spotted egg releases its wren song
Today when the maple sets down its red leaves
Today when windows keep their promise to open
Today when fire keeps its promise to warm
Today when someone you love has died
or someone you never met has died
Today when someone you love has been born
or someone you will not meet has been born
Today when rain leaps to the waiting of roots in their dryness
Today when starlight bends to the roofs of the hungry and tired
Today when someone sits long inside his last sorrow
Today when someone steps into the heat of her first embrace
Today, let this light bless you
With these friends let it bless you
With snow-scent and lavender bless you
Let the vow of this day keep itself wildly and wholly
Spoken and silent, surprise you inside your ears
Sleeping and waking, unfold itself inside your eyes
Let its fierceness and tenderness hold you
Let its vastness be undisguised in all your days.
June 22, 2018
I saw Oceans 8 this week and I really enjoyed it. I think I like a heist movie with gorgeous costuming and absolutely no violence (best paired with a cherry coke).
- Just Write 500 Words, The Cut. “Lots of writers like to pretend they write for eight hours a day, but they are lying. They are on Twitter with a blank Word document open in another tab. That doesn’t count as “writing.” This doesn’t have to be torture. Just write 500 words, and then stop. Until tomorrow.” Also, I watched the Netflix movie Set It Up over the weekend and there’s a line like “But if I want to actually be a writer, I have to stop making excuses not to write.” Everything is telling me to just do it and I’m doing it! 500 words a day is a very doable goal if you’re writing a novel and maybe other types of prose. I think figuring out the time of day that my writing is the closest to the surface really helped me, so I am incredibly indebted to Daniel H. Pink’s When. But reckoning with my phone and social media use in the past year has also really helped me see the ways I was dulling my brain and making myself feel bad. Is there something you feel like you’ve always wanted to do but never get around to it? Look around to see what’s getting in your way, then set a doable goal for each day. So far, so good.
- How Netflix Swallowed the TV Industry, Vulture. “It has replaced demographics with what it calls “taste clusters,” predicating programming decisions on immense amounts of data about true viewing habits, not estimated ones.” This is such a (long) interesting look at the mechanisms behind Netflix original content.
- Rihanna’s Perspective on Her Weight Changed How I Think. “Within a few months, I began to see my obsession with my weight as not only unhealthy and hurtful, but delusional. As I learned to speak to and treat myself better, I literally began to see myself differently.”
- Burnout Strategies for Librarians, Kevin Harwell (paywall). I read this in preparation for my presentation later this summer on mindfulness and workplace wellbeing. His definition breaks down the three components of burnout (which only takes place in work contexts): exhaustion, cycnicism/detachment, and a sense of ineffectiveness/lack of accomplishment. Here are a few parts that really struck me: “Certain job characteristics are known to be related to burnout. These include the following: high workload; time pressure; conflicting demands on the job; lack of adequate information to do the job well; lack of social support, especially from supervisors; and lack of feedback.”
And: “One way to consider contributing factors for burnout is in terms of job demands and job resources.” Job demands can burn you out, but job resources like performance feedback, rewards, job security, participation in decision making, and support from supervisors can help. “In case studies where job demands were high, but job resources were also high, employees did not experience high levels of burnout.” If we’re getting the support we need, we can handle the high workload. Is this shocking? No, but it’s nice to see the dots connected.
- “Home,” Warsan Shire. “who would choose to spend days /and nights in the stomach of a truck / unless the miles travelled / meant something more than journey.”
Be good to each other this week. Love you.
June 15, 2018
I’m writing this in the morning. This seems to be a very good time for me (inbox not open) to be writing. This week I’ve been mindful about how I spend my time and what tasks I put where. Trying to churn out a blog post in the low-slung hammock of the afternoon has not been successful for me, but still sipping on the dregs of my coffee I am finding the words are here! Hello! It’s like being able to use my legs again after an 8-hour car ride. I feel light. Hello again!
- Plus Size, Curvy, Fat: How Do We Talk About Size? Racked. This piece and the one below are from Racked’s Size Conversation package. More great reads there! This is a helpful roundtable conversation about the words we use for ourselves and others, and about how crappy clothes designers and advertisers treat plus size people. For example, they reference this (honestly sinister) move that Everlane did – they used a plus size model to model their underwear, but they don’t sell underwear that would actually fit anyone plus-size. “You know what they’re trying to do? They’re trying to get you, or you, or you, or me, to squeeze ourselves into this XL and then not feel good about ourselves. Because when we get it in the mail and we put it on and we’re falling out of it, and it doesn’t fit the way clothing should fit, we’re like, I need to lose 10 pounds to fit into this underwear that was supposed to be targeted and catered to me, and it’s absolutely not.” And there’s this great quote about hiring people for your marketing team who know what they’re talking about: “You can’t just have our money, without actually listening to us — like for real listening to us.”
- Body Positivity is a Scam, Racked. “That these later ads leave out any larger agent responsible for the body image epidemic isn’t a mistake. Dove and its ad agency had picked up on something important in the positive response to its first ad: They didn’t need to take responsibility or propose a solution…The cultural narrative about women’s bodies was so bad that simply identifying the problem would get Dove full credit and move plenty of product, but the urge to talk about a broad cultural problem while refusing to name a bad actor left the blame squarely on the shoulders of the women who had the temerity not to love themselves sufficiently.” This is such a good breakdown of the BS that is modern “body positivity,” which like the self-care movement – is trying to sell you an aesthetic without addressing ANYthing that might be making a girl feel like she needs to care for herself. “Body positivity in 2018 rushes right up to the line between aesthetics and politics but puts not one toe over it.”
By the way, I saw a ThirdLove bra ad on Instagram the other week that really pushed me into fed up: “A bra so good it’s practically self-care.” No!
- The Woman Who Gave the Macintosh a Smile, New Yorker. “The marriage of craft and metaphor” is what Susan Kare calls designing the icons used for original Macs.
- When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel H. Pink. This book has so much good stuff about timing
and the patterns of your everyday life. I can’t recommend it enough, if
only for the personally-revolutionizing visualization of a day in
peak-trough-recovery terms. He also talks about the power of effective
breaks and scheduling the right kind of work for the right time of day:
analytical, vigilant work like writing, research, and surgery for first
thing in the day; admin and rote work for the slumpy, sleepy afternoons;
creative, insightful work like brainstorming after dinner and into the evening. For most
of us, that’s the way to make our brain energy and our tasks come into
harmony. There’s so much more in this book about working in groups,
harnessing the power of beginnings, and why we like our happy endings
with a little poignancy. Read this book! (And if you can’t get your hands on it, here’s a summary of some of the most helpful points.)
- A New York Times Opinion Writer Shares What She’s Learned About Time Management.
And related to the above, there are some great practical tips on managing time here. I’m very interested in the idea of not being on the internet during my prime writing times. Also: “When you’re trying to decide between several options, pay attention to which one energizes you and which one makes you feel tired just thinking about it. (I learned this from a life coach, Janet Orth.) This isn’t always feasible; practical factors can intrude and there are things you must do. But it’s worth weighing the “energy” factor, too. Even as a grown-up, it’s okay to choose the option that seems like more fun.
- Free Hand Embroidery Patterns. Cool resource for some free embroidery patterns, along with free knitting and cross-stitch at the link. Needlework is definitely on my list for learn-to-do. Maybe it will be this winter’s hobby? I’m glued to my sewing machine this summer.
June 8, 2018
Well, this was one of those weeks where I feel like I’ve been pestled into a fine powder. I hope I make a soup much spicier than the chef intended! I only have short reads this week, because I’ve been comfort-food reading (mostly reading cookbooks, like this one and this one). Aren’t cookbooks just like magic spellbooks?
- Pretzel Bites Recipe – King Arthur Flour. I’ll start by sharing a magic spell that was super successful for me the other week. I think homemade pretzel bites are going to become a tradition around here. These came out nicely, and the instructions walked me through a process that I had always assumed was beyond my abilities.
- Millennial Pink, Gen-Z Yellow and the Truth About Color Clickbait, Man Repeller. “I racked my brain for some other association that would peg this unique shade of green to this particular moment in time and encapsulate its underdog-like combination of alienating and appealing and offensive and charismatic, all at once. That’s when it hit me: This color is such a Miranda.” People trying to predict color trends is so interesting. I also kinda wonder why all the recent trending colors are so milky-bright? Not quite pastel, but full brights, and certainly not jewel tones – all four colors mentioned (millennial pink, “Gen-Z yellow” lol, melodramatic purple, and Miranda green) are (for me anyway) firmly in the “too light to be a pants-color” camp. You know, you watch these near-future speculative films and everything is shiny, silver, and black, but it’s kind of funny to imagine our future as candy-colored. I’m sure there’ll be a 90s-primary-colors normcore reaction in about 4 years anyway.
An Ode to the Strange (and Lost) Intimacy of Shopping With Friends, Elle. This is a nice personal reflection on shopping with friends. I have my own complicated feelings about being in a dressing room with various friends, but I do think this is a type of socialization we lose when we shop exclusively online. However, in my circle of friends anyway, the dressing-room experience is going nowhere thanks to thrift stores!
- Interesting Patron Questions, OCLC/WebJunction. These made me laugh. “May I please have half a David?”
- “Steps,” Frank O’Hara. Such a lovely, “I do this, I do that” poem.
- I recommend the Netflix “The Toys That Made Us” episode on LEGO. It’s very good!
- Prince George’s County Public Libraries have a great Summer Reading video out, it made my day!
June 1, 2018
Happy new month! Spending (or not spending) money has been on my mind lately. Last month I bought a car, and that seriously depleted the feeling of a plush cushion in the lumbar region of my bank account. I think since moving out and experiencing the relief of a two-income household, I’ve been in a mode of buying things I need (or “need”) when I want them. I’m actually glad to feel like I’m sitting on a cold, hard plastic folding chair these days; I’m back in the habit of sleeping on a purchase, asking myself if I really want it or if I have something like it at home already.
This past weekend, my husband and I went to public parks, cooked at home, played board games with friends, and watched a million movies from the library. For what I would typically treat as a shopping weekend, I feel pretty good about that. Boosted by constant advertising and spon-con, there’s still a ridiculous urge all the time (new pajamas? a wrap dress? yet another set of markers with such fine tips they could puncture the paper? endless takeout?), but as with many areas of my life, it feels more manageable now that I can see it mindfully. To quote Aminatou Sow, my third eye is wide open.
An Algorithmic Investigation of the Highfalutin ‘Poet Voice.’ This is so funny and strange. “It’s easy to make fun of Poet Voice. But its proliferation across the space of academic poetry may have more serious implications as well. In a 2014 essay, “Poet Voice and Flock Mentality,” the poet Lisa Marie Basile connects it to an overall lack of diversity in the field, and a fear of breaking the mold. The consistent use of it, she writes, “delivers two messages: I am educated, I am taught, I am part-of a group … I am afraid to tell my own story in my own voice.”
Kim Kardashian’s Beautiful, Sinister Weight-Loss Sponcon. This is a perfect example of why people feel so dang miserable on Instagram! Ugh, gross. I’m sure a lot of you have already heard about this sneaky Kim K ad shilling “appetite suppressant lollipops,” but reading through this piece that breaks down what’s especially irresponsible about Kim’s “endorsement” helped me connect some dots that have been bugging me. First, the article points out that the Kardashians don’t emphasize the amount of support they receive (or pay for) in the form of trainers, chefs, nannies, stylists. And so to suggest in ads that a tea or lollipop is all it takes to look like these women is a real misrepresentation. But we all fall for it! And the biggest click moment for me this week is how gross it is for weight-loss advertisers to target Instagram users at all, given that people are often experiencing their lowest body image on that app. Feeling very conscious of the invisible strings this week.
Is this life-giving? Questions to Reflect On. “What drains you but you keep returning to it?” Hmm probably Instagram. Both the title and quoted questions are great journaling prompts.
- Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready. I read this in one shaky, emotional day. I identified a lot with O’Connell, when she references “panic-Googling” all of her fears and insecurities, and when she talks about her struggle to come back to Earth after an untethering season of PPD. There are moments of feminism, body horror, and relatability in this book, but a few days after I was left feeling like the book wasn’t totally “done.” As in, there might not have been enough space between the events and the memoir-ization of them. I would recommend this book to all but the very squeamish.
- We need a new kind of HGTV. I am so on board for Kate Wagner’s recommendations for new/old HGTV programming, almost enough to consider watching the channel again. One thing I remember about HGTV in the early 2000s was how much how-to there was, and I thought that was valuable and inspiring, as well as relaxing to watch. (Don’t most people have this channel to keep them company?) And on a general note, I have lately felt like that as the companies and content creators I follow become more successful, their taste and definition of “affordable” has changed. A perfect example that I’m sad to mention is the wedding-planning, feminist resource website A Practical Wedding. I relied so much on the clear-headed writing, budget-breakdowns, and focus on “what really matters” in planning my wedding, but the sponsored content and increase in scale has made it hard for me to see myself there at all anymore. In part to maintain healthy spending habits and curb a sense of material dissatisfaction, I’m trying to be thoughtful about withdrawing from online areas that have become “too rich for my blood.”
Bonus features, for something a little sweeter: