February 22, 2019

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I consider February a self-love month. Well, not this February. I’m not necessarily struggling with self-loathing (no more than usual, she laughs, making everyone uncomfortable), but it’s been harder to “take my time” and “have compassion for myself” this year.

It’s the whole New Job thing; it’s going well but it takes me a while to adjust to change. This afternoon I told my boss, “I notice I’m not performing at the level I did at my old job” and he looked at me like I was apologizing for breathing so much library oxygen. “There’s a lot to take in,” he said, “and no one expects you to hit the ground running.” I realize that I’m pretty uncomfortable being a beginner — not knowing what the acronyms mean, the social dynamics, or how to get my blinds unjammed. So, I tell myself my favorite piece of Captain Awkward advice: “You are a beginner, not a failure,” and I try again next week.

  1. How Students Engage with News, Project Information Literacy. This is the executive summary of this larger report, and I think it’s interesting to see the trends in how college-age students are taking in the news. A lot of us will recognize behaviors in these statistics, not just college students — the news can be overwhelming, we get a lot of our news from personal conversations, and sharing news stories on social media makes us feel like we have a voice. This recommendation was my favorite piece from the study: “Bring the value of context back to news coverage. News organizations need to provide hypertext links and add valuable contextual information to news stories while increasing investment in “explanatory” and “solutions journalism.”
  2. How Do I Deal with My Partner’s Feelings When They Eclipse My Own? Asking Bear. This advice column letter has some great practical steps for partners of people with Big Emotions. “I, for example, have all my biggest feelings immediately upon hearing or knowing something – that’s the peak of the graph – and then in the hours and days that follow I calm down and am able to discuss things more easily without yelling or crying or spending my energy on not throwing things. In general, and probably not accidentally, my lovers and partners have tended to be people who have the opposite graph: they receive new information with calm equanimity, and then they build up over the next little while to their biggest feelings about something before coming down the other side. […] It’s not uncommon, in such pairings, that the person whose big feelings come right away gets a lot of attention for them while the person whose feelings develop slower doesn’t. That can be because the person who peaks sooner is “finished,” emotionally, with the thing before the later-peaking person get to it. This is a tough dynamic, especially when the later person ends up feeling like they give a lot of emotional support but when they eventually need it there’s nothing doing.”
  3. Words as Feelings, Aeon. “Save those rare exceptions such as onomatopoeias, where a word mimics a noise – eg, ‘cuckoo’, ‘achoo’ or ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’ – there should be no inherent link between the way a word sounds and the concept it represents; unless we have been socialised to think so, nurunuru shouldn’t feel more ‘slimy’ any more than it feels ‘dry’.Yet many world languages contain a separate set of words that defies this principle. Known as ideophones, they are considered to be especially vivid and evocative of sensual experiences.” This is a beautiful concept. I love the implications that ideophones have for poetry, for embodied words, for the intuitive way that some words feel… “Ideophones move us a little closer to understanding how, through sounds alone, two individuals can share sensual experiences across time and space. They should remind us that language is deeply rooted in the body; that each word is, in some small way, a performance-piece that deploys many of our senses. ‘Poetry helps you see things in a new light, helps you savour words, is evocative of sensory scenes,’ Dingemanse told me. ‘That is exactly what ideophones do in many of the world’s languages.’”
  4. The Ryan Adams Allegations are the Tip of an Indie-Music Iceberg, Laura Snapes for the Guardian. “The industry has been slower to reckon with its abusers post-#MeToo than other art forms […] because the myth of the unbridled male genius remains at its core. The male genius is the norm from which everyone else deviates. He sells records, concert tickets and magazines. And because he resembles most of the men who run the industry, few of them are in any hurry to act when he is accused of heinous behaviour, lest their own actions come into question.” I think some of my readers are in the music industry/scene, and I hope you click through and read this whole piece, as well as other thoughtful writing by women on this story. What is happening in the mainstream is happening on the local level too, and I’m pretty tired of seeing creative women sabotaged and minimized.
  5. Reflecting Journaling: A Daily Practice, The Librarian Parlor. “Reflective journaling helps one see the connections of their work through a critical and analytical lens. It can assist you in generating ideas, inspiration, and self-awareness at work. For example, do you notice any patterns in your work? How do those patterns intersect? How do they differ? By writing these questions down you begin to reflect on your work in thought-provoking ways.” This comes from a library blog but the advice is excellent for anyone I think. She urges us to consider a reflective journaling practice, a safe and stable place for you to record your progress on goals at work, projects, and conflicts. It’s a way to see patterns in your work habits and well-being, and it can also function as an amazing record of your perspective if you ever need it for HR stuff. I use one journal for both personal and work reflections (note: for me, that’s not the same as my planner with dates or to-do lists), so journaling is an important part of my life. Do you journal?

Bonus features:

February 15, 2019


Image: Peanuts Worldwide LLC

Oh, hello. Friday really crept up on me this week. I’ve been preoccupied with starting the new job and wearing my self-consciousness like a big sandwich board. I like the office, the people seem nice, and I’m very awkward! But this is a phase that will pass. In the meantime, here are some things I managed to read or at least look at this week:

  1. Here’s Why You Should Care Less About Your Work, Glamour. Excellent tips on post-work rituals here, amongst cute workplace comics. “Be less passionate about work” doesn’t mean “Don’t care about work.” It means: Care more about yourself. Carve out time for the people you love, for exercise, for guilt-free vacation. Remind yourself that few people look back at their lives and wish they had stayed at the office until 10:00 P.M.” I want to develop a good post-work ritual. Hmm…
  2. How to Determine Whether Something Is or Isn’t a Romantic Comedy, Entertainment Weekly. I think I follow the logic here, but I especially love this final line: “Movies are most enjoyable when they can be debated and disagreed on.” As long as no one is being a jerk to anyone, that’s totally the truth.
  3. Tom Gauld’s “Winter Garden,” the New Yorker. I really liked this cover illustration.
  4. East, Edith Pattou. I’m re-reading this book in anticipation of the sequel, West, which I just found out exists! East is a beautiful retelling of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” sort of combined with “Beauty and the Beast.” One of my favorite fairy tale retellings. (If anyone has any retellings they want to share I am all ears! I just heard about a version of Pride and Prejudice set in Pakistan called Unmarriageable that I’m very curious about.)
  5. How to Stop Static on a Dress Clinging to You, Wikihow. I’m sure you can guess why I read this article this week. I used Method #4, because I hate how in the winter my skirts all turn into weird lumpy pants clinging to my legs!

Have a fun weekend!

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February 8, 2018

51511148_1408570802613499_796040044778356736_nHello! Wednesday was my last day as a librarian at Hood College. Next week, I’m starting a new chapter at Carroll Community College, doing familiar work with new populations. Right now, I feel nervously optimistic, gently grieving, and way too in my own head about how far I’ve come and where I am headed. I’ve always seen February as a self-love month, and I invite you can join me in taking our time with things and having compassion for ourselves this season! Also some of my favorite people have birthdays in February and YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. My reads this week:

  1. Illustrating Howl’s Moving Castle in pictures, the Guardian. I love this book so much, and these illustrations are gorgeous and fun to look at! There’s a little quote from the book to give you an idea of what’s happening in each illustration, but you can also just enjoy the soft fantasy illustrations. Mmm.
  2. Telling Students Not to Speak Chinese, Inside Higher Ed. I recently read a short story called “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu, which is partly about a Chinese woman living in the United States. There’s a part where she is telling her son about the loneliness and disorientation of living without a community or even family that speaks her language. “No one understood me, and I understood nothing,” she writes. I had that short story in mind when I read this news story about a professor criticizing first-year graduate students for having a conversation in Chinese in an academic building. Her email suggested that it is “impolite to have a conversation that not everyone on the floor could understand,” and told students that this would hinder their professional opportunities (because employers/faculty would interpret their use of their native language as a sign that they “are not taking this opportunity seriously.”) It’s really sad to think that students finding community with each other, conversing in the language they know best, would be used against them like that. I found grad school lonely enough, and I wasn’t an international student — I can only imagine how receiving that email must have felt. It’s also weird that the professor characterized their using Chinese in a group conversation as “impolite.” I’m not sure I’m doing a great job explaining this, but I think that’s a case of assuming something is about you when it has nothing to do with you. Those students weren’t speaking Chinese to each other at the non-Chinese-speaking people in the building. And also, you’re not entitled to every conversation in every public space you enter! This article has bugged me ever since I read it. It makes me want to be even more welcoming to the international students that I serve. Welcoming with a VENGEANCE.
  3. 21 Truly Upsetting Vintage Recipes, Buzzfeed. Okay, what was the love of gelatin in the 50s? Is this representative of the real food eaten or just the “product-recommended recipes” that no one would even consider making? I love that there are some fancy elements (curlycues of carrot, radish roses, bed of endives) and then just, SPAM.
  4. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, Sarah MacLean. Alright y’all, you know I read the romances. David has been making fun of this title since he saw it on the counter but I promise you it is surprisingly sweet, the right ratio of sexy to melancholy, and frequently funny. Happy Valentines Day, read a historical romance if that’s your thing!
  5. Taking photos of Instagrammable, private homes, Curbed. “But since Instagram exploded into the world in 2010, photography—travel photography in particular—has evolved faster than the law can accommodate. Where the law falls short, we have ethics—moral principles that guide our conduct in business and life. And in the application of our ethics, we have etiquette—a societal code that shows us how to be polite.” This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while — even though we’ve had the internet for a while now, and social media for a good bit too (Thanks Facebook, for reminding me of something I posted fully ten years ago), it doesn’t feel like there’s a widely embraced set of etiquette norms. I am going to check out that etiquette podcast! This is another thought-provoking quote from this piece: “Now, a lot of people travel because they want to take the same Instagram picture…They don’t travel with a traveler’s mind. They don’t care about the culture, they don’t care about the people, and they don’t care about the environment, so they don’t protect it.”

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February 1, 2019


 Free Vector Graphics by Vecteezy

Hello and happy Friday, happy February! I am going to be unabashed about a few of my beloved interests (crafts, Stardew Valley, AMERICAN GIRL DOLLS) in this post, and I invite you to nerd out with me a little 🙂

  1. Why a Longtime Google Exec Thinks We Need to Slow the Internet Down a Bit, Vox. This article advocates for more “friction” on the internet — that is, longer loading time, editor/peer review processes, more obstacles between you and your first impulses. I think this is interesting, because I would have expected that the easier it is to share and publish information the better, but the article points out that this leads us toward communicating in a way that is “harder, faster, angrier, lonelier.” But he says that “friction creates space in the system where judgment can intercede, where second thoughts can be had, where decisions can be made. Look at organizations with longer time lags and more editors and you get better, calmer, more considered coverage.” This article is brief but says all the right things for me about “rediscovering the value of things being a little slower and a little less efficient.”
  2. How to Declutter and Organize Your Personal Tech in a Few Simple Steps, NYT. This is definitely something I am looking for in a season of tidying up and clearing out. My sprawling collection of photos is definitely the area I have the most trouble cleaning up but I found some good tips here: “Start by trimming out the easy ones: duplicate photos, blurry shots and old screenshots. Then move on to the harder part: deleting the photos that were decent but not your favorites. Mr. Bartolomei said people could look at each photo and ask themselves a few questions: “Is this something you want to see again? Does it make you happy? Do you want to spend more time with this photo in the future?” If you answer no to any of those questions, the photo can probably go in the trash bin.”
  3. Tips for Getting Through a Bad Season, Buzzfeed. Is late winter a “Bad Season” for you? I think it is a tough time for a lot of people. Rachel Wilkerson Miller was one of my favorite writers on Buzzfeed (she was recently laid off in that terrible wave of layoffs there), and her tips on dealing with your tough season are pretty solid. Aiming for more time in nature, maybe less time with alcohol or your phone, and my favorite: “Put water on the problem: Take a shower, take a bath, wash your feet, go for a swim, walk along a river, go to a shore…when your Bad Season is really getting you down, water can be really damn soothing, and a good quick fix.” I used to know someone in high school who had a hard time every February, and she made sure all of her friends and family knew that that was a great time to send her “thinking of you” messages or plan movie nights with her. That stuck with me, as an early example of asking for what you need from the people who love you.
  4.  The Joy and Pain of Starting Over in Stardew Valley, Polygon. This is a nice little piece reporting on Stardew Valley moving on to the Nintendo Switch. I have this game on PC and I love it so much. It’s so relaxing and beautifully designed. “Stardew Valley is not a complicated game. In fact, it’s almost mesmerizingly dull. You wake up in the morning, tend to your crops and animals, maybe go into town to shop or crack open some geodes or socialize with the locals, and then go to bed. Sometimes you explore one of the nearby mines and kill monsters. Sometimes you flirt, usually by walking up to people and, without introduction or fanfare, presenting them with their favorite meal. There is only one bus in Stardew Valley, and you are always the sole passenger.” Also I just found out about this awesome farm planner website that I’m gonna use to design my next farm!
  5. @5hensandacockatiel, IG. Nerding out over this Instagram (“dollstagram”) account. I love Sydney Rose Paulsen’s styling of American Girl dolls! Her photoshoots are exactly what I used to imagine and attempt when I would play with my 18″ dolls (I am thinking specifically of a time I dressed all my dolls up for winter weather and posed them in a “snowdrift” in our front yard). I love what she does with lighting and scale, and my miniature-loving heart also delighted in all the accessories and clothes that have boomed in this industry since I was little. Makes me want to get out my dolls and hold their little shoes and jackets again.

Bonus features: