PSA

After many months of patient domain stalking, you are now looking at the newly registered smalldogsyndrome.com

It is absurd how gleeful I am about this for no real reason. Nothing further to add, just wanted to say we’re now officially up in here as the official source of small dog syndrome-ness on the interwebs. Carry on.

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Friday Links

“Our labour preserves us from three great evils — weariness, vice, and want.”
― Voltaire, Candide

In the office until 9:30pm last night because I had to take a day off today due to builders being in the flat replacing all the doors and windows. Props to them for getting a big job done in 8 hours…most of which I had to stand outside in the cold, bundled up, and watching a neighbor’s dog who had simply been left behind as his owners didn’t seem to realise that replacing doors means…there are no doors to keep your dog in with. I’m terribly cranky.

NPR’s Monkey See blog dives into the varied (and occasionally gruesome) history of the tale of Cinderella, in all her cultural formats.

The hours I’m pulling, this is necessary reading.

And speaking of NPR, three cheers for public programming!

I want to go to there.

I might be afraid of this app

Bifurcated girls. Oh my!

If the corgis can’t predict this, nothing can.

This week’s post on women, gender issues, and religion is equally horrible and strengthening.

Irony.

So…this is my neighborhood. No biggie, just unexploded WWII bombs.

And the follow up.

Instagram find of the week.

Paternity leave for the win.

I’ve clearly got spring on the brain because I want this dress. Also a vacation to wear it on.

Dinner at El Nivel

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

The bad news, kittens, is that while I’ve found plenty that is decent, I’ve yet to find solidly amazing Mexican food in London.

The good news is that I might have found something better.

The other week, Jeff and I were both feeling battered from a pretty shattering time at work (which isn’t yet done, alas) and when we looked grimly in the direction of the kitchen and tried to contemplate dinner, realised we just couldn’t. The very idea was hateful. So we hopped online to try and swing a last minute meal. Back before we descended into the work-fog of the last six months, we were pretty good at researching shows we wanted to see, free things to do around the city, and interesting places to eat. We’ve gotten slightly out of the habit so it was gratifying to spend only a few minutes online when we found El Nivel and immediately we made a reservation.

It turned out to be a wise move because El Nivel truly is a hidden gem and getting in is not easy. First of all, it’s housed above another food joint and if you aren’t keeping a sharp eye out, you will miss the door directing you upstairs to food bliss. Second, it is tiny. The whole dining area contained a bar and half a dozen tables, and I’m pretty sure the floor space is about equivalent to our flat, which is saying something. In spite of the size, the place is laid out for chic casual dining and the first floor windows look out over a popular pub and brewery, and slightly into some of the windows of the Adelphi Theatre where I’m pretty sure I caught glimpses of costumes and wigs.

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Blink and you might miss it!

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This is, in essence, the entirety of the restaurant!

The food purports to be Mexican tapas, and it is…but it’s also unabashedly fusion. In a way that sounds like it shouldn’t work but does–gloriously. The menu changes constantly but when we were there, items like “chili verde” were cheerful mixed up with others like “Chinese pancakes.” We just ordered a bunch of stuff and dug in because it all looked (and turned out to be) delicious! The guacamole, for instance, contained strawberries and pomegranate seeds, which turn out to rock the socks off of a humble tortilla chip. Not pictured but noteworthy is the salsa verde…the first proper salsa I have tasted since alighting on these shores and worth a revisit for that alone.

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I heartily recommend the chicken tacos. Little packets of refreshing goodness, with lime, ginger, and fresh pico doing the nicest possible things to your mouth. I ate one and then laid claim to the second of three, telling Jeff he didn’t get a say in the matter. I probably would have eaten all three but he wisely popped his in his mouth before I could get to it.

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I’ve been loving my work, but it is demanding and after some of the days I’ve had, there comes a point where you just need to throw on some lipstick and go on a date.

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Even if your boyfriend seems to be wearing a potted plant as a fascinator. My dining tastes may have improved, the photography to capture them has not.

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Friday Links

“Dubai was founded on trade, not oil.”
― Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Flashes of Thought

Dubai. It is done…and now I gear up for Doha. That’s just the way we roll around here, kittens! Here are your links, tell me what you’re getting up to this weekend in the comments.

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For the “new tone” and talk of reform and change set by Pope Francis (who I’m pretty positive on in most ways), plenty of people feel that women are being left out of the conversation. Religious feminism is kind of a thing round SDS, so worth a read if you find yourself similarly interested.

Relevant to my interests. Takeaway curry has featured heavily of late.

Beautiful, simple sculptures.

Women at work.

Braaiiiinnnnsss.

Bureaucracy for the win.

As I said to Katarina, “Wut, ISIS?” (Note, this is NOTHING compared to the systematic destruction of priceless historical objects, locations, and artifacts, I’m just puzzled by this one.)

Tumblr find of the week.

What several prominent religious women have been up to lately. Shattering glass ceilings, reality TV, Nobel prizes…

Ugh, I know, right? Cambridge!

This is the weirdest order I have ever heard of. Exactly how do you enforce this? “Reincarnate, or we’ll kill you? “

Of Kids and Dogs

“Grown ups are complicated creatures, full of quirks and secrets.”
― Roald Dahl

Inspired by a comment chat with the lovely and thoughtful Grace from Culture Life, on one of the weekend links.

I’m turning 29 this year, Jeff is turning 30. In four months we’ll celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. Depending on who you ask we should have between 0 and 3 children by now. Some people are amazed we married as young as we did, some feel the need to caution us about our dwindling fertility.

Living in Britain means that the latter is a lot less common than when we lived in Utah when multiple people, including total strangers, would ask me about our reproductive plans every week, but it still happens simply because we’re married. It’s a natural progression in the social expectation. In Britain it’s not unusual to partner up but wait until you’re ready to have kids to marry, to have kids before marrying, or some other variation. It’s a lot more more live-and-let-live than the US is in a lot of ways, but family is a topic of conversation for a lot of people I know, particularly working women.

I’ve married a man who definitely wants kids, and who decided at the ripe old age of 23 that he definitely wants to have them with me. (Luckily for all concerned, he still does.) Which means that before we married we had a lot of frank talks on the subject and have maintained a pretty open dialog about the whole thing throughout our married life. One of the things we talk about the most lately is the financial realities of families for people like us. We also talk about about getting a dog.

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It sounds like I’m getting off topic here, but I promise I have a point.

A while back I was speaking to a whip smart agent who works at a major global sales firm. The woman is very nice and always well put together, and I enjoy working with her. She mentioned that she had a dog, a breed that I like, and I asked how she and her husband managed to look after a pet since Jeff and I were interested in having one down the line somewhere. It turned out that she has a dog sitter look after her pup. Every single work day. Her dog needed a nanny.

And lest you think I’m telling this story to make fun of her, I assure you, I’m not. It’s just a reality for a lot of pet owners. Pets take care and if you want a pet you either need to provide it yourself, or ensure someone else is on hand to do it when you can’t.

The parallel to children might seem unflattering towards the latter, but I think it’s a fair one. London is an obscenely expensive city and when I look at my colleagues and coworkers, there are only two options I see for how they manage it. They either 1) make enough money for one parent to stay–or more likely work from–home with the kid(s), meaning they make an awful lot, or 2) they have help. And to make the second option work, that usually requires plenty of money again to be able to afford said help!

Getting this job effectively doubled our income, which has already been an incredibly positive shift for us. I’m still freelancing on the side, but now if we’re smart, we can pay off our remaining student loans within two years. I can’t begin to tell you what a relief it is to say that, because debt (even obtained in a good cause) is terrifying. However, we’re still a few years away from even thinking seriously about having kids. And in that time, we estimate we’d have to double our income again to afford a child because even though we’re bringing in twice as much, it’s not even close to allow one of us to stay home past a maternity/paternity leave–much less afford a nanny five days a week.

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I know some people, in countries all around the world, who can afford to have and maintain a family on a single income. I know far, far more who can’t, and the trend is very much towards the latter from my generation. Wages have not kept up with cost of living and–in spite of what a lot of Boomers like to argue to the contrary–the evidence is that people my age are pretty frugal. Jeff and I sure as hell are! Like a lot of millennials, in spite of working hard (two jobs in my case) we’re swimming in debt which delays a lot of other financial considerations like buying property and cars (two things the American economy has depended on for half a century), investing…and having kids.

Spawning is a complicated topic for me. I’ve written several times about the fact that I’ve never felt a primal urge to have children like I know many women do. In fact, I dislike infants and babies intensely, silly or not childbirth actively frightens me, and human pregnancy looks to my eyes as if we should have tried one or two other evolutionary models before deciding on the one we’ve landed on. Add to the mix my slow and painful breakup with a religion that couches the female experience almost entirely in the language of motherhood, often (in my personal opinion) to the detriment of nearly all other possible life choices/realities for women, and you get some pretty conflicted views.

But financial issues conflict it even more. We won’t have our debt paid off until we’re in our early 30s, and I don’t want to have children in my late 30s. My mother did and even though it was the right choice for her (plus my little sister is pretty darn cute), it’s not an experience I want to repeat. Which means that our window to consider children shrinks every year. I’m personally fine with that, but I work hard to make sure Jeff and I are on the same page about it. We are. We literally cannot afford them.

And I don’t think we’re unusual. In fact, I think we’re the increasing norm.

Weigh in with your thoughts and experiences, kittens. I’m curious to hear them. 

Saturday Links

“Saturday night is perfect for writers because other people have “plans.”
― Mike Birbiglia

I have no excuse, kittens, except Dubai. Here are your links. I’ve got to do some freelance this weekend before heading out to enjoy the shockingly gorgeous and warm weather that’s suddenly descended.

Interesting personal piece on the choice to not have children. If it were up to me, I’d be happy being a professional aunt and godmother, but Jeff definitely wants to be a father so we had to have a lot of conversations and compromising before we married on the subject. How about you guys? Are kids an if/when/never for you and why? (NO wrong answers here, genuinely interested in hearing the full range.)

Tumblr find of the week.

Greatest Love of All, Whitney Houston.

TED Talks to survive your 20s.

Like attractive French men on the metro? There’s an Instagram account for that.

Well, there goes the neighborhood.

NOPE. Categorically everything about this is evil.

Augh! AUGH!

I apologise on behalf of my my countrymen.

Art doesn’t last, but the chemistry behind this particular age-related breakdown is interesting.

Friday Links

“Live long and prosper.”
- Vulcan salute

All of last week? Yeah…it kind of got more hectic this week. Here are your links, I’m in need of pizza.

Speaking from experience, this is mostly dead wrong.

I know need to read more diversely than I currently do, so I found this piece interesting.

Relevant to my nerd interests.

The roots of the paperback.

Banksy strikes again.

New York, New York?

Religion and its cross section between gender and sexuality issues is sort of a topic of interest around here, so I found this article quite interesting. Admittedly anecdotal, but there might be some lessons to be learned here for a lot of people.

Thoughts on Bitcoin, anybody?

State your personal interaction policy for the record, please.

Striking image of an interesting and rare condition. Accompanying story quite interesting as well!

Truly the debate of our times.

Goodbye, Mr. Spock.