October 19, 2018

There’s a hill at this park near my house that I’ve taken to marching up and down with Persey in the afternoons. I’m delighted to find that it’s crisp and even chilly out here, so I can indulge in long, rambling walks with my girl without worrying about either of us collapsing from heat exhaustion. Something about this incline, only about a quarter of a mile at a gentle but definite slope, has been fantastic for my mental health as well as my heart rate. And the reward of sitting in the sunwarmed grass, looking over the rest of the park with Persey panting at my side, has been so rich. What do dogs look at when they look over a great height?

  1. Get Acquainted with the Gorgeous Wedding Gowns of America’s Wealthiest Families, Harper’s Bazaar. Some gorgeous satin and dramatic veils at this link. As the article says, we may not have royals here in America, but we do have society brides.

  2. The One with the Embryo’s Friends Trivia Episode: A History. This is interesting: “The writers crafted the material, but the crowd decided whether or not
    it was good enough. If a joke didn’t yield the expected laugh, the
    writers huddled up, rewriting on the spot. The actors tried multiple
    line readings, listening to hear which one landed best. If the audience
    seemed uncomfortable or put off by a line, they fixed it and tried the
    take again — and again, if necessary. This meant shoot nights were a
    marathon, often going until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. (and sometimes required
    swapping out one sleepy audience for a fresh one halfway through).
    Sometimes producers would turn to the crowd between takes, asking for a
    show of hands to see how many got the joke.” I love this episode, because it reveals more little details about our friends than we knew before, plus the electricity of a high-stakes competition. This episode and the Thanksgiving one where they’re all yelling each other’s dirty laundry in mutual destruction (”The One Where Ross Got High”) are some of my favorite moments.

  3. Doctor Beth, who runs the Realms of Gold doll and stuffed animal hospital, has a wonderful blog that photographs her process recovering and restoring beloved and damaged stuffed animals to lovable glory. What I especially love about her process is that her goal is not always to make the loveys as good as new, but to stablize their seams, wash away matted fur, and get them back to their kids as soon as possible. Take a look at some of her posts, like this amazing Gorilla restoration or this sweet Winnie the Pooh, and you’ll see what I mean.

  4. I Think About the Princess Diaries Palate Cleanser A Lot, the Cut. The Cut has this series, “I Think About This A Lot,” which is sort of a personal essay about a really specific memory or moment that the author has keyed in on with loving attention. I am always a sucker for deviling the details, but these are also often funny. Check out the series, and especially this dessert from an iconic movie of my growing up.

  5. I Still Love My American Girl Dolls, Glamour. “Historical fiction is essential to young readers, especially girls; we
    have to be able to imagine ourselves and our foremothers as vital, even
    in a small way, to the story of our society. The American Girl books
    (and later, the Dear America series, another 10/10 rec) put young women
    at the center of history and said that virtues like bravery and honesty
    and friendship and hard work were the keys to happiness and fulfillment,
    rather than a sweet disposition and a pretty face and a nice singing
    voice, as Disney might have us believe.” [Emphasis mine] Same, girl.


August 3, 2018

This picture is pretty old, maybe my senior year in high school. But just look at that freedom, that innocence, that embrace of nature! Where is that girl? I think she’s still walking around in here, but there’s a matte layer of routine and responsibility over her now. And sometimes after a week of flood warnings, storms as you sleep, and furiously flapping windshield wipers, I forget the option to just go stand in the rain.

  1. My wedding was perfect – and I was fat as hell the whole time, Lindy West. “I have never in my life been fatter than I was on my wedding day, I have
    never shown my body in such an uncompromising way, and I have never
    felt more at home in that body. I was fully myself, and I was happy. We
    are happy. This life is yours, fat girls. Eat it up.” I’m going to sneak some extra reads in here because I want to
    front-load this weekend with LOVE. Captain Awkward hosted a conversation
    on her Patreon about bodies and the online resources and writing that “helped you be kinder and gentler to yourself and others around bodies
    and/or eating,” so I shared this write-up of her wedding that Lindy West
    did a few years ago. Reading this piece when I was preparing to get
    married was the permission I needed to by joyfully and wholly myself
    that day.
  2. You Don’t Have to Love Your Body, Ijeoma Oluo. Captain Awkward shared this piece and the next one, which I felt were really valuable: “I also love body neutrality. I love the freedom of slouching and
    wearing gross sweatpants and not combing my hair and scratching my butt
    and not giving a rat’s ass about my body whatsoever. I like allowing
    fleeting moments of body negativity to pass by without so much as a
    cursory glance as I get back to forgetting my body exists. I like the
    rare and welcome surprise of occasionally getting dressed up and saying,
    “hey sexy lady” to myself in the mirror and then once again going back
    to forgetting my body exists. I like not having to strive for anything
    regarding my body other than basic maintenance in the hopes of keeping
    it running a little longer. I like the freedom to ignore even that.”
  3. The Fantasy of Being Thin, Kate Harding. “So
    giving up dieting and accepting my body didn’t just mean admitting I
    would never be thin; it meant admitting I would never be a million
    things I might have been. (Which, I’m told, is a phenomenon sometimes
    known as “maturity.”) I am absolutely not one for settling — which is
    where the confusion about pessimism comes in, I think — but I am one for
    self-awareness and self-forgiveness. Meaning, there’s a big difference
    between saying you can’t be anything other than what you are right now,
    and you don’t have to be anything other than what you are right now. You
    will probably never be permanently thin, unless you are already, but
    other than that, the sky’s the limit. You can be anything or anyone you
    want to be, in theory.”
  4. Your Brain Really Does Get Slower in the Summer, The Cut. “
    A new study
    found that students who lived in air-conditioned buildings (where the
    temperature averaged 71 degrees) performed better on tests than students
    living in buildings without AC (which averaged almost 80 degrees).” I knew it! I’m sluggish in the summer and this helps me feel justified.
  5. Mr. Rogers was my actual neighbor. He was everything he was on TV and more. “Fred Rogers’s ethos was unlike any other: scrupulously moderate,
    tolerant, and anti-consumerist, driven by cutting-edge models of child
    development and infused with dollops of real Christian love. (Rogers was
    in fact an ordained Presbyterian minister.) At the same time,
    his worldview was steeped in traditional values: discipline, modesty,
    self-control — preparing children for the real world of routine and
    responsibility. And he was training the parents of the future,
    delivering his message across the “vast wasteland” of television and
    directly into people’s living rooms.”

Bonus features:


July 27, 2018

Hello ducklings! Are you out of the rain? It looks sunnier around here today, but I still woke up to a wet lawn. This week I presented for the first time at a professional conference and it went really well! I also talked to other librarians and felt like I made real connections at a professional event for the first time, which made the whole day feel really satisfying (though exhausting). Here’s some stuff I read this week!

  1. Women’s Media Is a Scam, New Republic. Let’s talk about this. I would say that all media, not just womens’ media, operates on advertising dollars. But I would agree that in womens’ media this is particularly sneaky and gross. “The difference between today’s women’s media scam and yesterday’s is that the advertising is now hiding in “native” content, and the scummy clickbait is packaged better.” Extending this thought process to the blog-sphere, I’ve been finding it so difficult to sort through what is honest, vulnerable communication on the web, and what is devious shilling and exploitation of a blogger’s personal life. At the end of a day reading things online, I just feel tired (and tired of being talked to like a breathing, walking debit card).  
  2. How We Create Personal Myths (And Why They Matter). This article helped me untangle the fact that I’ve been telling myself I’m invisible for the last few years. Now the string is sitting in my lap and I’m not sure what to do with it. At least it’s in my hands now?
  3. Forbes Deleted an Op-Ed Arguing That Amazon Should Replace Libraries, Quartz. I saw the original op-ed circle library channels and I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to engage in what was essentially an ignorant acquaintance belittling my profession at a party for his own entertainment. But I’m happy to see how quickly that article got wrecked, hahaha. On Twitter, Mourdoukoutas wrote, “Let me clarify something. Local libraries aren’t free. Home owners must pay a local library tax. My bill is $495/year.” Writer Kashana Cauley responded to Mourdoukoutas in a tweet with 14,000 likes at time of writing, “Let me clarify something. I don’t want poor and working class people to read books.”
  4. In Praise of Drunk Cleaning, Apartment Therapy. “By drunk I don’t mean drunk drunk of course, but rather that sweet, mildly hazy feeling you get after one drink or two. Which brings me to my favorite thing about drunk cleaning, which is the way that having one drink, or two, slows me down a little, stretches moments out and lets me sink deeply into them. In moments like these I’ve begun to see how cleaning is not a boring, thankless task imposed on us by an unfeeling and cruel universe, but instead, if you choose to see it this way, an opportunity to reconnect with the physical essence of life, to do work that is meaningful and immediately rewarding, and to create order and beauty from the chaos of your particular corner of the world.” I find this interesting, because sometimes I already enjoy cleaning at this level – but lately I’ve been in a motivation-rut where the only appealing things to do when I’m in my house are: cook, eat what I cooked, and read until way too late. It’s that summertime something that makes us all lazy and weird. So maybe I’ll get a little wine-tipsy and vacuum?
  5. The Changing Face of Romance Novels, NYT. I LOVED The Kiss Quotient. This article talks about how the progress for publishing more diverse romance authors (more authors of color, both authors and characters from different age groups, backgrounds, body types and abilities) has been slow in part because the majority of submissions still come from white authors, which is a testament to the “You can’t be what you can’t see” adage about representation. And as a white woman, a member of the romance novel majority, I think my world gets bigger and hopefully my writing gets better as I read and hear more voices at this table. We all benefit, and I recommend this book!

    I copied my Goodreads review here: I’ve been dipping in and out of contemporary romance novels for the last year, and so many are forgettable. I finished this one with an IRL smile on my face – it’s a singular book with memorable characters and a lot of heart. I loved the look into an autistic woman’s inner world, and even with an unlikely premise, everything feels realistically motivated. It’s also steamy. Highly recommend it!”


July 13, 2018

I’ve had one of the best weeks in my personal life this week. You may have heard that my husband’s sister came up from Tennessee to spend the week with us, and that it was a total (and perfectly executed) surprise for my husband. That happy surprise energy has filled my heart up like a beach ball, and I’m floating on.

  1. 16 Salad Ideas with No Lettuce, Buzzfeed. I’m trying to incorporate more veggies into my life, and it’s too dang hot for vegetable soup. Some cute ideas here!
  2. Marisa Tomei Knows What She’s Worth, The Cut. I love Marisa Tomei!
  3. This Love Story Will Self Destruct, Leslie Cohen. This is a good, rom-commy melancholy story so far. It has Nora Ephron vibes but not quite as timeless.
  4. Can I shout out another cookbook?
    The Weeknight Dinner Cookbook: Simple Family-Friendly Recipes for Everyday Home Cooking is full of yummy and very doable recipes. I feel like I’m learning the language of cookbooks and recipes, and while the words “easy” and “fast” typically mean “involves a lot of pre-prepared ingredients,” the word “weeknight” usually means “doesn’t take 3 hours of marinating, chopping, or slow-roasting.”
  5. Sorry Reflex – Barbie Vlog. Ok this is a video but it’s a really sweet and well-made video for women and girls. Can I speak my truth? Barbie animated content is excellent even though it doesn’t have to be.

Have a great weekend! Be outside a little if you can!


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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. 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!
  4. Interesting Patron Questions, OCLC/WebJunction. These made me laugh. “May I please have half a David?”
  5. “Steps,” Frank O’Hara. Such a lovely, “I do this, I do that” poem.

Bonus features:

  • 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!