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.
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
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.
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.”
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!
- 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).
- 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?
- 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.”
- 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?
- 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 6, 2018
Good morning, grey skies and a little relief from the heat wave! What a strange week with a day off smack dab in the middle, but I kind of enjoyed the bouncy, momentum-less rhythm of this week – like summer days of childhood where there’s absolutely nothing that needs doing.
- The Bullshit-Job Boom, New Yorker. Interesting book review that doesn’t totally cosign the book. “Graeber thinks that a sense of uselessness gnaws at everything that makes them human. This observation leads him to define bullshit work as “a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case.”
- Gossip is Good, The Atlantic. This is kinda wild, the positive social effects of gossip: “Despite gossip’s dodgy reputation, a surprisingly small share of it—as little as 3 to 4 percent—is actually malicious”
- The Way We Talk About Bodies, Lindy West for Self. “We’re supposed to be hot in all the old ways while appearing liberated in the new ones. We’re expected to devote ourselves to weight loss as much as our mothers and grandmothers did, while at the same time orchestrating an elaborate cover-up: this modern weight loss is always a coincidence, a byproduct of our “wellness practice,” an incidental surprise.“
Lindy West is one of my heroes. “You don’t have to do this perfectly. But I hope you will afford yourself the same generosity and unconditional love that you so effortlessly extend to your friends and siblings and children. If you need to maintain a certain body size in order to feel like yourself, do it with kindness and self-reflection. Fight to remember that you are living inside of a cruel, toxic system, and when you hate yourself for gaining five pounds it’s because a billion-dollar industry conditioned you to feel that way for profit. Do everything you can to break that cycle for the next generation. Work to make the world a warmer, safer, and more accommodating place for bodies more marginalized than yours. Believe that you will be okay even if you get fat. Remember that is not better to be thin than to be fat: not morally, not aesthetically. Think about that until you really believe it.” Be right back, just crying over here.
#1120: The Creepy Guy In The Friend Group, Revisited: Four More Geek Social Fallacies, Captain Awkward. Captain Awkward is always so good, but especially when she looks at how the dynamics in a group of friends can go awry, why no one wants to address it head on, and how you can start to fix it for yourself. “What if we could learn expensive and uncomfortable lessons much earlier, by saying “I believe you, let me see what I can do” to the victim of the bad behavior and “Hey, I like you a lot, can you knock off doing that gross thing so I can keep liking you”
to the perpetrator? If someone you like is behaving badly, you probably
couldn’t have prevented it, but could you at least not become their
flying monkey after the fact? Could we reverse the current of social pressure that teaches victims
not to speak up so that awkwardness flows toward perpetrators?”
- Letter of Recommendation: ‘Live Like a French Woman’ Books, NYT. “In recent years, the genre has grown to include hygge (how to be Danish) and lagom (how to be Swedish), and guides on being Greek and Italian too. The crazier things get here at home, it seems, the more certain readers long to escape into a culturally homogeneous fantasy Europe where everyone shares the same values, works a 30-hour week and is nourished by deep roots and routines that are also, somehow, supposed to be welcoming and inclusive — learnable by the likes of you and me. As a friend once pointed out, the implied subtitle of all these books is: If we only had a system!
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?
- 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.
- 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.
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!
- Interesting Patron Questions, OCLC/WebJunction. These made me laugh. “May I please have half a David?”
- “Steps,” Frank O’Hara. Such a lovely, “I do this, I do that” poem.
- 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!
April 27, 2018
My husband was out of town on tour all week, so I’ve been in a super weird headspace – eating a lot of lazygirl cheese plates and re-reading a certain princess-diary-based YA series of my youth. It’s been nice to spend some time on myself, but I’m ready for the boy to come back. Besides the anxieties of Mia Thermopolis, here’s some stuff I read this week:
Going ‘green’ is more than shopping at Whole Foods and driving a Prius. After talking to a few people who are trying to live plastic-free lives, I went on a weird Google-question spiral that went something like this: how to use less plastic? > 300 Easy Ways to Replace Plastic In Your Life > how much are disposable bamboo plates? > $39.95 for a pack of 25?! > how to be environmentally conscious and poor at the same time > This article: “The environmental movement needs to do a better job of connecting issues of race, class, poverty and sustainability; in short, it has to become a broader social movement. And people of color need visibility in the movement…Ultimately this is where the citizenry of the planet can and must come together in order to move forward.”
‘She has nerves of steel’: The story of the pilot who calmly landed the Southwest Airlines flight. Wow, this story is intense. But I kind of love to read about people having “nerves of steel” in a moment of crisis.
Is It OK to Drink the Water You Left Out Overnight? ALL MY CURIOSITY ABOUT DUSTY WATER IS SATISFIED. But this headline is misleading, because I have never once wondered if it’s ok or safe to drink that water…because I’ve never considered drinking it. That is the drink of the desperate at 3am, and then it is the drink of my houseplants at 8am!
- How Do We Write Now. “But the pure concentration that you live in when you write a poem is still there, is still just beyond us as the green dimension. It can still be accessed through the door of yourself, you can still swing it open, though the hinges scream. Because it is a place of pure concentration it can wait forever for you.”
Patricia Lockwood is super weird. I relate and don’t relate to this essay/poem/talk in turns, but I’m glad I read it. This part is so great too, and says in poetic language something I’ve been reading in social science articles all spring
“The feeling you get after hours of scrolling that all your thoughts have been replaced with cotton candy — or something even nastier, like Runts or circus peanuts — as opposed to the feeling of being open to poetry, to being inside the poem, which is the feeling of being honey in the hive.”
- No Makeup on My Wedding Day. I wore very little makeup on my wedding day, and prioritized really clear, healthy, dewy skin
and I’m happy with how I came across in photos and how much I felt like myself on that blurry, busy, beautiful day.
However, this quote is bananas: “Weddings are performative,” Ms. Stribula said. “You’re up there to be viewed and judged. Not wearing makeup was a natural representation and a natural extension of me. I’m publicly proclaiming my love, not my beauty.” I feel like New York Times weddings might be performative…and maybe a whole bunch of others…but yours doesn’t have to be!
Have a great weekend, friends. Be a little weird, and be good to yourself.