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.


September 21, 2018

I slept so much last weekend while David was out of town, and I still feel like I could nap the afternoon away! This week’s finds feature a lot of fashion and visuals, so feast your eyes:

  1. Plus-Size Vintage Really is Hard to Find, Racked. This look at the history of plus size clothing was helpful to me, at least in unpacking why I’ve never been able to take much more than a visual interest in vintage clothing. One historian comments, “After stoutwear ended and before plus-size in the 1980s emerged, women were sewing for themselves,” which I am actually still seeing! Women sewing their own clothes because designers and mainstream retailers are just not providing clothes that flatter us.

  2. Experts Agree: We’re in the Midst of a Paradigm Shift in Women’s Pants, Quartzy. “Denim silhouettes shift in a major way about every 10 years, enough to define the decade when you look back on it. We entered the skinny jean phase around 2007 when we left bootcut behind and stuck with that silhouette for about 10 years without fatigue. It was time for a change.” There’s some talk in here that kind of bums me out – about how when suddenly everything in our closets looks outdated, we’ll have to all go shopping for new clothes and that news excites retailers – but I also like thinking that every decade has an iconic denim that defines the era.

  3. Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, the Guardian. I always love these. I’ve noticed that there is a half-conscious reaction in me, a Noah’s ark instinct perhaps, that loves to see two animals of a kind interacting – cuddling, tussling, or climbing on each other. I look at two cats washing each other’s ears and think, “Yes, that looks about right.”

  4. The Harvard Color Detectives, The Paris Review. I wish I was a color scientist! “Toward the end of the interview, I ask Khandekar how much the collection is worth. None of my questions, even the dumb ones, have elicited even an eyebrow raise from him, but this one is different. “I have no idea,” he says. “It doesn’t matter.”” The pictures in this piece look like a wizard’s shop. This author writes a column on the history of colors (another dream job), and I’ve shared her pieces before!

  5. You’ve Got Mail (1998) – Art of the Title. Just learned about this website, Art of the Title, which highlights the title sequences of film and tv.
    Some of them have interviews, some just the title sequence.

    Of course I’m using the You’ve Got Mail title as my sample, but check it out and look for your favorite movies, it’s really interesting!


August 17, 2018

We are almost back to school! And I have a few back to school related reads for you this week, but first. What is your favorite brand of pencil? Mine are Ticonderogas – just the softest lil graphite and a very well-meaning eraser!

  1. Making Students Care About Writing, The Atlantic. “Analyzing the work of middle-achieving students—rather than just failing or thriving ones—can significantly improve teachers’ effectiveness with underachieving students, McKamey argues. When teachers focus on the work of the lowest-achieving students, McKamey has observed that such conversations often turn into a space to blame the students, their parents, or other teachers, or they veer off into emotionally invasive discussions of a student’s private life. Focusing on middle-achieving students who showed recent improvement helps teachers dispel unrecognized stereotypes—and learn how to notice and build on their strengths.”
  2. An Underappreciated Key to College Success: Sleep, NYT. This is so important! “Dr. Prichard, a professor of psychology and neuroscience and scientific director of the university’s Center for College Sleep, said the sleep habits of college students represent “a major public health crisis” that institutions of higher learning pay little attention to. Of 26 risks to well-being that colleges consider important to inform students about, sleep ranks second to last, just above internet addiction, she said.”
  3. Basic Needs, Security, and the Syllabus. This is such a thoughtful idea, to make a statement of needs on your syllabi. “Is this the right thing to do? Will it also help accomplish another goal – communicating to my students that a classroom of learners is, in my mind, a sort of family? Is this language exactly right? Will they respond to it as intended? I don’t know. But I’m glad I put it there.”

    This is the statement she is considering for her syllabi this year, and I really appreciate this line of thinking: “Any student who has difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat every day, or who lacks a safe and stable place to live, and believes this may affect their performance in the course, is urged to contact the Dean of Students for support. Furthermore, please notify the professor if you are comfortable in doing so. This will enable her to provide any resources that she may possess.”

  4. Alternative to Thinking All the Time. I’ve read this before – maybe even linked to it before? But it’s gold. If you are approaching this fall as someone connected to education (teachers, librarians, students, parents of students, or simply people who love bouquets of newly-sharpened pencils), I invite you to remember that you don’t have to think so hard all the time. “Over time, this intention to come back to the present, to see how it tastes, becomes natural. More and more, rich experiences of ordinary things just happen. Without trying, you just start feeling the experience fully, when you’re starting your car, when you’re settling into a lawn chair, when your friend’s voice comes on through the phone. The richness in any ordinary experience, when you’re there for it, can be unbelievable. And it happens more and more.
    The whole time, just in the background, accessible in any moment you feel safe to drop the mental busywork of reactive planning and worrying, is a steady stream of sweet, interesting and complex flavors, fresh ones arising in every moment. That might sound like more pretense, but it’s the opposite: it’s the only thing that’s real.”
  5. Agency, Not Use, ACRLog. “I am not a resource; I am a person. I am a woman with agency, skill, experience, and talent. I do my work for myself and for my community. I am a teacher who facilitates learning. I do not go to work to be used. I go to work to educate, empower, and learn.” I value this perspective as I approach this semester. I’m eager to be helpful, embedded, trusted, and yes – useful. But it’s good to be thoughtful about the words we use for what we do and the implications of them.

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!