March 27, 2020

With more downtime, I haven’t found more productivity. And maybe that shouldn’t surprise me, since stress is a creativity blocker and high levels of stress can keep us from thinking clearly. But if, like me, you are absorbing the message that with all this extra time, you should be catching up on cleaning or creative projects or that backlog of books, I invite you to be gentle with yourself. As my friend Abi said the other day, “I’m saying to myself, ‘I don’t actually have a list of everything I have to get done. There’s not actually stuff I have to get done. Whatever I do is what I do. That’s it, that’s how this goes.’”

Whatever we do is what we do, friends. Take care of yourself and whomever is in your house with you, and anything else that gets done is a happy surprise.

  1. Plus Size Wedding Gowns on Real Plus Size People, Mechanic Shop Femme. Not even planning a wedding, just feeling the photos in this lookbook. That pink fur dress!
  2. Yoga for Uncertain Times, Yoga with Adriene. Adriene’s Youtube channel is an old favorite, and I’ll be breathing my way through these videos on my back porch whenever things get overwhelming. There are a few videos in there as short as 6 or 7 minutes, and I think they’re pretty accessible even if you’re new to moving your body in this way.
  3. Free Colouring in sheets, print and post!, Jacqueline Colley. Planning to color these sweet lil graphics over the weekend. Also these quirky and chunky ones from an illustrator named Geo Law. And this little activity book for kids is pretty cute too, by Daniel Chimal called Stay Home Creative Club!
  4. Small Kindnesses,” Danusha Laméris. “Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other. / We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot, / and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile / at them and for them to smile back.”
  5. A Study in Scarlet Women, Sherry Thomas. I have consumed MANY Sherlock retellings, some good, some not so good. I’d say this has been my favorite — it’s not the only gender-flipped retelling, but the atmosphere of this series has really drawn me in. The Sherlock in this series, Charlotte Holmes, reads as autistic to me, and I also enjoy the jumps from narrator to narrator, so we don’t only get Mrs. Watson’s perspective on her detecting partner, but also from Charlotte’s sister, and a (sexy) friend of the family named Lord Ingram Ashburton. The mystery itself is pretty good; at least, I didn’t solve it before the characters do. Is that a sign of a good or a bad mystery plot? I just learned recently that some people like to try to solve the mystery while they read and I don’t think I’ve ever tried that. I think I’m just a gentle sheep ready to be led around by the author, wherever she’ll take me. Anyway, read this book! (If you have a Frederick library card, they have the audiobook in their Libby app. And if you don’t and you’re an MD resident/employee, you can request a temporary digital library card here!)

Bonus features (aka wholesome content):





March 20, 2020


Have you said to yourself in the past few days, “Damn, I ran out of internet?” Because that’s where I’m at. I’ve read the scary things and I’ve read the funny things and now I’m tired. So this post is gonna be a little different; I still wanna share 5 things I read this week (not a single pandemic read in the list), and maybe some other silly stuff at the bottom.

  1. The rise of impossibly cute and wholesome games, The Verge. “The gradual popularity of uwu games in recent years is changing the conversation around video games and its players. While the genre is still niche, there is a sizable community invested in their smaller, compact stories, which offer more laid-back and introspective experiences. Perhaps there’s a growing sense of fatigue around the heady, visual bombast of more mainstream games and the hypermasculine heroes that dominate them.” I’ve been playing a lot of relaxed-pace video games the past few weeks! My favorites have been A Short Hike and Shape of the World, so far. And of course my first PC game love, Stardew Valley (which has a bunch of awesome updates to add more stuff to do. You can SEW STUFF NOW).
  2. “I Call This to Mind,” Tim Hampton. My dad’s daily thoughts on a short Bible verse have been on POINT lately. “And [his compassions] are new every day. No day old faithfulness here. I can let go of all that came and went yesterday and even more, I don’t need to worry about tomorrow. I don’t need to hoard his faithfulness today in case he doesn’t show up tomorrow. Our God is outside of time. Tomorrow for him is the same as today. He knows what is coming and is completely prepared and sufficient to meet my every need both today and tomorrow.” Comforting words for me.
  3. “my official opinions”, Tumblr user littledeludeddupes. Bear with the terrible font/background contrast here to read this person’s divine, absurd prose poetry about the best kinds of dogs. Explaining it is taking the fun out of it, so here are some of my favorite excerpts: “dogs are weird men who cant read and crawl on the ground. dirty boys who can be troublesome. they are utilitarian animals who like to help and be good though and are very admirable in nature.” This sounds like something my friend Charlotte would say about dogs and I’m here for it. “some good points of small dogs is that theyre very portable and, in general, small. theyre very dumb and rowdy like all dogs but with a smallness twist […] they are naughty men but they certainly have a purpose”
  4. “Aaron earned an iron urn” (Baltimore Accent Test), Dooley. I LOVE this video. I love when he starts over-enunciating it in indignation, I love when he says, “We really talk like that?” I love these wholesome boys and I love dialects.
  5. Can you tell if these women are in a catalog in 1970, 1980 or 1990?, MeTV. Sick quiz, sourced from the excellent Go Fug Yourself blog. Also, I did SO bad on this quiz hahaha. But there’s a lot of things from the 1980s, especially in the “sweet, romantic” genre, that I would like to see again!

Postscript: Okay, so I sent this to my friend Kaitlyn and she asked me to add it to the blog. Hopefully you won’t find this too over-indulgent, and it is technically quarantine-related so feel free to skip. Over the weekend I pulled my Polly Pocket collection out of my parents’ basement and have been living my doll-loving best life ever since. (I know some people think dolls are creepy, but I’ve never resonated with that take, not sorry bout it!) Here is one of the many doll plots I’ve been exploring:


OKAY so. Everyone is quarantining together in Jules’ apartment. Jules, the one with the permanent bandana, was my absolute fave Polly because she had brown hair and there was a serious overrepresentation of blondes in my collection. This memory underlines to me why representation matters so much to black girls, fat girls, anyone who doesn’t see themselves in their toys and media! Anyway back to the Pollys.

Tiff is a teacher (I mean, just look at her literacy-themed skirt) and Jules’ best friend. Liz has just the one leg, as well as some chronic health stuff, and since she has a twin sister who works at a hospital, she’s staying over til things calm down. Leah is kind of the mom friend, and she’s also a chef whose hours just got cut, so she’s going to be making everyone gourmet mac and cheese and fancy taquitos this week.


This is Louis, Jules’ gay roommate. He’s also a gym rat, so he’s upstairs working on his push-up form in the mirror. Note: the cat’s name is Scissors.


This is Liz’s twin sister Abby, chilling in their studio apartment (Abby wears roller skates to get around the hospital quickly, don’t @ me if that’s a bad idea). Cal is her coworker and recently started dating Louis, but they’re keeping away from each other for now. Will their blossoming relationship survival social isolation?

Anyway, Jules is about to turn 30 and they’re planning the massive rager they’re gonna throw when quarantine is lifted. The gals are currently discussing menu and whether or not it should be black tie (obviously it will be, I have so much rubber formalwear for them to put on!).

That’s it, folks. Tell me about your doll plots or whatever the heck you’re doing for fun!

March 13, 2020

Working in higher ed, like working in many places during this health crisis, has been stressful this week. I am not going to ask much of you reading-wise this Friday because frankly I am not willing to ask much of myself, reading-wise. Enjoy some infographics!

  1. 17 Desk Stretches to Try at Work, Muse. Good tips and cute names for the stretches!
  2. Selfies Are Gonna Save The World, Autostraddle. “I actually think the fact that a selfie is not necessarily an entirely “true” representation of yourself makes it… more true! When you take a selfie you’re in charge of the narrative. What are you highlighting? What are you obscuring? What are you celebrating? Taking a picture where you can see your perfect makeup but you can’t see the pimple forming on your left cheekbone isn’t a lie, it’s a celebration to the part of yourself you enjoy looking at right now.” I also liked this line: “You can really, genuinely train yourself to love parts of yourself that you thought you hated if you look at yourself lovingly for long enough.”
  3. Everybody Hates Boob Lamps, But Boob Lights Are Actually Good Lamps, Apartment Therapy. As a renter in a house with aLmOsT nO oVeRhEaD LiGhTiNg, I would appreciate more boob lamps in my life. “One flick of a light switch and a whole room is illuminated with a single boob.” Also, boob lamp: new band name.
  4. Coping with stress during the 2019-nCoV outbreak, WHO. “Limit worry and agitation by lessening the time you and your family spend watching or listening to media coverage that you perceive as upsetting.” I know this is VERY difficult to resist, but I have found my sense of wellbeing is better if I let myself check no more than 2 sources (CDC and the Maryland Department of Health) no more than 2 times a day (beginning of the work day and around dinnertime — not right before bed).
  5. Algonquin Park Trail Cam Footage 2019, Youtube. This has been a major way I’ve been dealing with the (major) stress this week: animal webcams, especially the ones set up in the wild (zoo cams are pretty cool, too!). Soothing, and you don’t need audio for them, so you can choose any soundtrack you’d like to watch mooses to.

March 6, 2020


Unpopular opinion: When people use the wrong “your,” I think it’s kinda cute. Your welcome!

  1. Sleep Needs, HelpGuide. This is my new, very extremely boring hobby. Apparently six hours of sleep is not enough for most people. Look at the list of signs you’re sleep deprived — they’re things I thought everyone was experiencing! Needing an alarm to wake up in the morning, using your snooze button, feeling sluggish in the afternoons are all signs of sleep deprivation?! Mama needs to sleep. “There is a big difference between the amount of sleep you can get by on and the amount you need to function optimally. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, though, it’s a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation. Just because you’re able to operate on six or seven hours of sleep doesn’t mean you wouldn’t feel a lot better and get more done if you spent an extra hour or two in bed. While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best.”
  2. Preparing for Coronavirus to Strike the US, Scientific American. I’ve been seeing this resource linked around the internet this week, and as far as I can tell it offers some sane, practical advice for feeling prepared for this potential health crisis. My takeaway was not the impulse to hoard supplies and turn my basement into a bunker, but to consider the ways that caring for myself and my family can help reduce the healthcare burden in my community. “Community-wide isolation,” a strategy used to reduce the spread of the disease, can also be thought of as snuggling up at home with board games or FaceTime.
  3. How not to get sick at the library, Librarian Shipwreck. “Here’s a game for you to play, don’t touch your mouth or your face. This is a challenging game! After all, you probably weren’t even thinking about touching your mouth or your face, but now you can’t think of anything else! It’s like saying “whatever you do, don’t think of pirates wearing magenta!” What are you thinking about? Probably, pirates wearing magenta. But, hey, at least it got you to momentarily stop thinking about how you should avoid touching your mouth and your face. This is just another one of those pieces of general health advice that you want to abide by in times of heightened anxiety about viruses. Luckily, libraries provide a really excellent way of ensuring that you aren’t touching your mouth or your face. Namely: books. Grab a stack of books, ideally carefully selected books that you plan on checking out of the library, and carry them. As you are carrying them you will not be able to touch your face. If you reach up a hand to touch your face you’ll wind up hitting yourself in the face with the stack of books you are holding. Problem solved.” This made me laugh, kinda. As much as anything about COVID-19 that stresses me out but I can’t help but read. But for real, wash ya hands. Also, this post reminded me that there’s a lot of unreliable information about this virus online, and from what I can tell the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) websites are the most credible.
  4. My Trip to Vietnam, Singapore, and Qatar, Kottke. “The more places I go, the less obviously free the US feels to me in many ways, even though our country’s baseline freedom remains high (for some at least). But the main observation I came home with after this trip is this: America is a rich country that feels like a poor country. If you look at the investment in and the care put into infrastructure, common areas, and the experience of being in public in places like Singapore, Amsterdam, Paris, and Berlin and compare it to American cities, the difference is quite stark. Individual wealth in America is valued over collective wealth and it shows.” I thought this was really thoughtful travel writing, and in particular that line about America being a rich country that feels like a poor country struck me.
  5. Jennifer 8. Lee: Why 1.5 billion people eat with chopsticks, TedTalk. This is just a lil mini talk, but I dug it. “chopsticks reflect the communal nature of eating food. You’ll have these dishes that you put in the middle, it’s very family style. You go in with your chopsticks, and you put it on your rice, and then you eat individually. There’s actually a famous sort of legend where everyone has these really, really long chopsticks, like way too long for them to feed themselves. And so in hell, everyone starves, because they can’t pick up food and put it in their mouths. But in heaven, people take the same chopsticks and then feed each other.”

Bonus features: