I was thinking this week about how every dog was one special Dog Power, be it the ability to grow and shrink in size, or to emit a soft colorful aura at will. It’s so nice how dogs have their special Dog Power but they don’t rub it in our faces that much, you know? Take for example, Penny (the orange one above). Her Dog Power is that she can understand human speech and even speak a fair bit, but she doesn’t brag. I myself have only ever known her Dog Power from the comprehension in her small dark eyes, but every now and then she’ll make a breathy little noise like she’s about to say, “Hey,” and thinks better of it. Dog Powers are subtle and gentle and usually manifest when we leave for work.
- #1245: “My Brand New Stepfather Thinks We Are On The ‘LW’S Mom Is Terrible Train’ Together. Help?”, Captain Awkward. “We spend so much time and energy worrying about communicating with people who don’t give a single shit about our feelings or our comfort. Can “do even less!” in 2020 be about changing that equation? […] Do we have to pull every mean and annoying person we know aside and earnestly and patiently discuss our boundaries, or spend all family gatherings navigating patiently around the people we don’t like and didn’t come to see? Or can we say a quick “hello” for routine politeness’ sake and because it would take more effort to freeze them out, and then go talk to the people we actually like?” I like that the Captain’s theme of doing less (2019) has graduated to do even less (2020) when it comes to the people who sap your vitality and are cruel. I love this thought especially for those circular, dysfunctional conversations: “‘Cause sometimes what the person who is behaving badly wants most is more of your attention, by any means necessary, and if they don’t get the initial high-five or commiseration or invitation to expound they hoped for, they’re willing to be loud and wrong if it means they can suck you into a longer conversation where you discuss the subject by which they mean they get to talk more about it.”
- The Twisted Ones, T. Kingfisher. This book gave me the heebie jeebies! A freaky monster story about a crabby woman named Mouse and her dog (who is confirmed to have survived the ordeal on like, page 3, which I appreciated), who go to North Carolina to deal with the remnants of a cruel relative’s hoarded house. I’m sure there’s scarier and grosser out there, but this gently pressed against my limits of spooky and spine-tingling, and I really enjoyed it!
- Every Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen Movie, Ranked by Surreality, Vulture. I remember watching these at a sleepover with a friend in high school and realizing just how wild these movies are. Weird early 2000s angles, a boy for each girl to kiss by the end, outfit montages, the SASS. And yet, due to my age and the power of their brand, Mary Kate and Ashley rein supreme in my world of teen celebrity icons. “They switch places with regularity. They are often kidnapped. Their parents are usually unmentioned — or appear only in voiceover, divorced, widowed, or dead. Their eyes always betray a profound sadness known only to overworked child stars.” Woof. One of the movies, which is nearly unwatchable if you are an adult, is the origin of “the infamous “Gimme Pizza” song, which is so deeply surreal and discomfiting that it enters the black hole of the uncanny and reemerges as completely normal and reasonable.” Does anyone want to have a sleepover and marathon these with me?
- The Kiss Cam, Behind the Scenes, Vox. This was cute! I didn’t know what went into those kiss cam scenes, and even knowing some of them are pre-arranged doesn’t take away from the sweetness you also see there. One of the joys of kiss-cams, I think, is “Hey! In this big crowd of many people, we’re all individuals, look at that!”
- Puppy Dog Bouncin’ (In the Box), RxCKSTxR. Still obsessed with this adorable song. “You a good puppy, you ain’t sassy / You don’t lick me in the face, that’s nasty…” Obsessed.
Hello I am back and it is 2020! I’m thinking about easing into January this year, like when you pour yourself a bath and it’s a little too hot so you go in a few body parts at a time. Right now I have lowered myself up to the knees but my butt hasn’t touched the hot water of the new year yet. Enjoy what I’ve managed to read thus far!
- The Communal Mind, Patricia Lockwood. “She lay every morning under an avalanche of details, blissed: pictures of breakfasts in Patagonia, a girl applying foundation with a hardboiled egg, a shiba inu in Japan leaping from paw to paw to greet its owner, white women’s pictures of their bruises – the world pressing closer and closer, the spider web of human connection so thick it was almost a shimmering and solid silk.” Patricia Lockwood stresses me out but she captures what it feels like (terrible) to spend too much time on the internet. Oof: “Late one night when you were idly typing in searches: Why am I tired all the time? Why can I no longer memorise a seven-minute monologue? Why is my tongue less pink than it was when I was a child? (There were only two questions at three in the morning, and they were Am I dying? and Does anybody really love me?)” This talk made me want to go out and look at a tree for a while.
- Why Calendars Are So Weird, and What Might Be Done About It, Atlas Obscura. “The economist and the astronomer created the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar, a variation on the Gregorian. It’s not wildly different, really. There are still twelve months, with the same names. There are still seven days in a week. But the number of days in each month are changed; each quarter has 30 days in its first two months and 31 in its third month (for a total of 364 days). Say goodbye to January 31 and hello to February 30.” Buh??? This is wild but I’m kind of down for how their calendar accommodates leap years, by adding a “whole new week, which they call Xtra, between December and January, every five or six years.” How was your Xtra week?
- The 2010s Have Broken Our Sense Of Time, Buzzfeed. “The 2000s were a bad decade, full of terrorism, financial ruin, and war. The 2010s were different, somehow more disorienting, full of molten anxiety, racism, and moral horror shows. Maybe this is a reason for the disorientation: Life had run on a certain rhythm of time and logic, and then at a hundred different entry points, that rhythm and that logic shifted a little, sped up, slowed down, or disappeared, until you could barely remember what time it was.” My one critique of this read is that those gifs follow you down the page and make it hard for the ole eyes.
- 100 Books That Defined the Decade, LitHub. In the last few weeks of the year there were a lot of “X of the Decade” pieces, and I thought sharing a book-focused one was appropriate here. As the list says, this isn’t someone’s round-up of the best, but of which books defined the decade (good or bad), and for that reason I enjoyed skimming, half-reading through it, because every few minutes I’d be like, “Oh yeah, that book.”
- “we slidin,” Twitter user @roob_drummer. Here is the tweet in full: “snowing hard this morning. Bus driver slid through a red light. Only thing he said was “we slidin” i cant stop thinking about this”
Did my best to confirm this quote. Do I know if it’s real or a Pinterest invention? No. Do I love it anyway? Yes.
Missed you all last week, I just plum forgot it was Friday! It’s nice to forget it’s Friday sometimes. These offerings touch on different kinds of sorrow but also the power of human connection and love. I think that combination is appropriate for the complexity of this season. Love you all:
- “Suggested Donation,” Heather Christle. I’m not sure if I shared this strange little poem with you all yet or not. But I like the conversational language. I like this bit about deer: “If they kept diaries / the first entry would / read: Was born / Was licked / Tried walking / Then they’d walk / away and no second / entry would ever exist.” Nice.
- How to Go Home for the Holidays When Your Family is a Bit Much, Vice. My favorite internet writer, Jennifer Peepas of Captain Awkward, had a piece published in Vice about going home for the holidays when navigating family relationships can be difficult. She quotes a therapist, Rae McDaniel, who has (like all therapists I’ve known) some very good soundbites, like: “You’re not going to be able to buy groceries at the hardware store, by which I mean, some people just are not going to be able to meet your needs.” But, McDaniel tells their clients, arguing with someone isn’t the only way to stand up for yourself. “Quietly changing the subject can be authentic; leaving the room and taking a walk can be authentic.” Good advice here!
- Design Over People? New Fine Arts Library Critiqued for See-Through, Grated Floors, Cornell Sun. “Every space that we use is designed by someone,” Nomura said. “[These concerns are] starting a really interesting conversation: Who is that someone? What’s their intention? Who are they really designing for?” Another library designed by someone who doesn’t seem to go in public or know any other people. See-through, grated metal floors? Sounds like my nightmare. The metal floors don’t dampen any sound either, so it’s also loud? And what if you spilled your coffee ON SOMEONE’S HEAD.
- Sarah Miller on How to Deal with Despair in an Age Full of It, Insider. In this piece, Miller doesn’t diminish the heaviness of what causes despair in these times, but offers a few ways to avoid wallowing in the heaviness. They’re maybe commonsense but still worth remembering, like doing something for someone else, or getting exercise. Also, I relate to the way she describes walking her dog, here: “I like to look at its tiny fat body pushing its way through space. I got another dog just because watching two animals at once made me feel even slightly happier, something about the symmetry, who knows, who cares, hello, endorphins, welcome, I am sure you will not have trouble finding a seat.” I love to see two dogs! And I know a lot of friends have been staying tuned in to the news as crisis after crisis unfolds, and for you all I think this piece would be helpful. It ends with: “I have some curiosity about what is going to happen next, and I might even feel like I have some power over the future. It doesn’t solve everything, but it allows me to get to the next day, when, with any luck, and maybe even some effort on my part, this sense of curiosity and power can connect with the curiosity and power in other people.”
- “I Come Home Wanting to Touch Everyone,” Stephen Dunn. As a lover of physical touch, this poem made me happy. My favorite bits are: “tonight the body-hungers have sent out / their long-range signals / or love itself has risen / from its squalor of neglect.” and especially: “everything, everyone is intelligible / in the language of touch.”