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!

June 1, 2018

Happy new month! Spending (or not spending) money has been on my mind lately. Last month I bought a car, and that seriously depleted the feeling of a plush cushion in the lumbar region of my bank account. I think since moving out and experiencing the relief of a two-income household, I’ve been in a mode of buying things I need (or “need”) when I want them. I’m actually glad to feel like I’m sitting on a cold, hard plastic folding chair these days; I’m back in the habit of sleeping on a purchase, asking myself if I really want it or if I have something like it at home already.

This past weekend, my husband and I went to public parks, cooked at home, played board games with friends, and watched a million movies from the library. For what I would typically treat as a shopping weekend, I feel pretty good about that. Boosted by constant advertising and spon-con, there’s still a ridiculous urge all the time (new pajamas? a wrap dress? yet another set of markers with such fine tips they could puncture the paper? endless takeout?), but as with many areas of my life, it feels more manageable now that I can see it mindfully. To quote Aminatou Sow, my third eye is wide open.

  1. An Algorithmic Investigation of the Highfalutin ‘Poet Voice.’
    This is so funny and strange. “It’s easy to make fun of Poet Voice. But its proliferation across the space of academic poetry may have more serious implications as well. In a 2014 essay, “Poet Voice and Flock Mentality,” the poet Lisa Marie Basile connects it to an overall lack of diversity in the field, and a fear of breaking the mold. The consistent use of it, she writes, “delivers two messages: I am educated, I am taught, I am part-of a group … I am afraid to tell my own story in my own voice.”

  2. Kim Kardashian’s Beautiful, Sinister Weight-Loss Sponcon
    . This is a perfect example of why people feel so dang miserable on Instagram! Ugh, gross. I’m sure a lot of you have already heard about this sneaky Kim K ad shilling “appetite suppressant lollipops,” but reading through this piece that breaks down what’s especially irresponsible about Kim’s “endorsement” helped me connect some dots that have been bugging me. First, the article points out that the Kardashians don’t emphasize the amount of support they receive (or pay for) in the form of trainers, chefs, nannies, stylists. And so to suggest in ads that a tea or lollipop is all it takes to look like these women is a real misrepresentation. But we all fall for it! And the biggest click moment for me this week is how gross it is for weight-loss advertisers to target Instagram users at all, given that people are often experiencing their lowest body image on that app. Feeling very conscious of the invisible strings this week.

  3. Is this life-giving? Questions to Reflect On
    . “What drains you but you keep returning to it?” Hmm probably Instagram. Both the title and quoted questions are great journaling prompts.
  4. Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready. I read this in one shaky, emotional day. I identified a lot with O’Connell, when she references “panic-Googling” all of her fears and insecurities, and when she talks about her struggle to come back to Earth after an untethering season of PPD. There are moments of feminism, body horror, and relatability in this book, but a few days after I was left feeling like the book wasn’t totally “done.” As in, there might not have been enough space between the events and the memoir-ization of them. I would recommend this book to all but the very squeamish.
  5.  We need a new kind of HGTV. I am so on board for Kate Wagner’s recommendations for new/old HGTV programming, almost enough to consider watching the channel again. One thing I remember about HGTV in the early 2000s was how much how-to there was, and I thought that was valuable and inspiring, as well as relaxing to watch. (Don’t most people have this channel to keep them company?) And on a general note, I have lately felt like that as the companies and content creators I follow become more successful, their taste and definition of “affordable” has changed. A perfect example that I’m sad to mention is the wedding-planning, feminist resource website A Practical Wedding. I relied so much on the clear-headed writing, budget-breakdowns, and focus on “what really matters” in planning my wedding, but the sponsored content and increase in scale has made it hard for me to see myself there at all anymore. In part to maintain healthy spending habits and curb a sense of material dissatisfaction, I’m trying to be thoughtful about withdrawing from online areas that have become “too rich for my blood.”

Bonus features, for something a little sweeter:


May 4, 2018

I got to the beginning of this month and realized that I don’t have any set goals

last month’s big goal (buy a car) really preoccupied me, and now I’m not sure how I want to structure this month in terms of ongoing personal projects. Here are some of my ideas:

  • Spend time in nature everyday
  • Rebuild my savings account (ouch, buying a car…)
  • Get my heart rate up for 10 minutes a day
  • Cover and repaint a piece of furniture I’ve been putting off
  • Just…have more fun?

We’ve got a lot planned for the weekends in May, and I kind of like the idea of setting a goal to HAVE FUN.

  1. Orbiting Is the New Ghosting. ORBITING! What an annoying concept. But as I think about it, it must be totally new territory to try to write romantic comedies about the intricacies of modern dating. I wonder how you’d try to capture chemistry when everyone’s just hunched over smiling (or hyperventilating) into their phones though…
  2. ‘I Feel Pretty’ and the Rise of Beauty-Standard Denialism, NYT. “I suspect it’s also simply too painful to address head-on. The amount of brainpower I spend every day thinking about how I look is a monumental waste. The sheer accumulation of images of celebrity bodies in my browser history feels psychopathic. I like to think of myself as a pretty smart person, but the truth is that I can’t seem to think my way out of this. The only way I’ve found to banish momentarily that shadow of the idealized self is to pay for it to go away — with a Sephora shopping spree or a spin class.” This is a review for a movie I’m not very interested in seeing, but I really like this quote. Sometimes my anxiety about my appearance feels like a literal obstacle in my path to doing the things I actually want to do, and know that I’m capable of.
  3. This Woman Shared One Of The Wildest Birth Stories You’ve Ever Heard. What a story, and thank goodness for Youtube tutorials that come through in times of need. What a badass!
  4. Living In: When Harry Met Sally, Design Sponge. I really like Design Sponge, they’re doing some really inclusive and thoughtful writing about design lately. But I also love their “living in” series, where they pull inspiration from TV shows and movies with a defined aesthetic that you can bring into your own life.
  5. You’re the Only One I Can Tell: Women, Friendship, and the Power of Conversation, Deborah Tannen. I just started this book after devouring about a week’s worth of light and fun romances, and immediately realized I’d have to slow my pace down to absorb the familiar wisdom and findings from this book, which uses linguistics and interviews to explore a variety of female friendships. It’s really good so far!

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:

  1. 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.”

  2. ‘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.

  3. 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!
  4. 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.”

  5. 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.


March 30, 2018

This has been beautiful Good Friday weather, and my book from last Friday (about fresh metaphors for God) has been keeping me company into this week, too. It’s been good to see things anew in this season.

  1. In Defense of Trends (Keep Calm and Let Them Be)  “But now it seems like everyone and every space is up for judgement in some way (and yes, as a site that posts home tours, that’s something we’re aware we’re a part of — more on that next week) and just about anyone feels it’s okay to make pretty big assumptions about someone’s life, choices, beliefs or personality based on what they see in someone’s home — especially if what they see is part of a popular trend.”

    I browsed all the links she mentions about judge-y design writing

    and they are really judge-y…and also contradictory! I swear I heard all these trends talked about in exactly the same prescriptive way like…last year. It’s like, you guys are the ones responsible for making trends blow up so fast! And of course they also fizzle out quickly, and here comes a piece from the same magazine on how “copper fixtures are so done.” I like thinking about my home and tinkering with it, but I am glad to have a moment of being critical about dissatisfaction/constant redesigning.

  2. How to Get Back Your Privacy Online Without Completely Checking Out.  I have used DuckDuckGo, and it’s pretty good! And they do really value your privacy, so you might notice they aren’t serving the results they think are most tailored for you, but that can be a good thing. This author’s fast facts about Google’s use of your info are kind of nuts!

    I’m sharing this article with some reservations about the author’s advice. This type of security-checkup article starts as easy, practical changes, and then veers into "pay for your email service and only use VPNs and TOR browsers” so fast…And I’m sorry, but a girl still has to function. Do what you can and make changes you can stick to, but if you aren’t willing/able/interested in locking everything down just yet, channel some of that energy into advocating for legislation that supports your privacy (like net neutrality, etc).

  3. Supporting Musicians: A Practical Guide. A great piece, and the best advice in here, in my opinion: “SHARE IT. Talk about your favorite artists. Post their links on your social media. Recommend them to friends. Word of mouth is still one of the most trusted, valuable ways to market in our over-saturated, algorithm-based world. YOUR OPINION AS A FAN MATTERS.” And to buy merch that you like

    “encourage them to keep making.” This advice hits home for me because my husband’s new album is coming out next Friday! Listen to the first single here, or check out the music video!

  4. The Intermediary We Don’t Need? Veronica Arellano Douglas. This turned my model of teaching information literacy (a model which is only about a year and a half old) upside down! Meditating on removing mediators in my classroom and exploring how to build a relationship in 50 minutes or less. “How amazing would our teaching be if we didn’t have an instructor
    computer at all? Is our focus on databases, websites, and functionality
    of resources interrupting our relationships with our students? How much
    more effective would we be as teachers and facilitators without that
    tech intermediary? Do we even need it?”

    Any tips, my teacher friends?

  5. How to Balance Your Media Diet (infographic). “When we have control over what we consume, we tend to feel happier.” I didn’t read this article very closely, because I was mostly taken with the infographic at the top!