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.

  1. 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.”

  2. 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.

  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5.  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:

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