Weekend Links

“. . . the newspapers of Utopia, he had long ago decided, would be terribly dull.” 
― Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey

Kittens! Friday is upon us!

A major hurricane has struck the Gulf Coast and Florida, a prominent journalist has been killed by (apparently) Saudi Arabian order, Princess Eugenie got married (wearing hella emeralds), the stock market is veering all over the place, and Taylor Swift is political now. Just another week in 2018…

Share your weekend plans with me in the comments. I’m still dealing with a collapsed ceiling and we have set up camp in the living room at the moment. It’s all very exciting and uncomfortable. Keeping a household running when you’ve lost a third of your living space and the rest has been compromised is not a walk in the park, believe me.

HIGHLY relevant to my interests, childhood and other wise.

I’m still not over the new direction of Celine.

This piece better articulates than I could ever could why the rise in social tensions (spearheaded by racist and sexist language and policy) are so frightening in the larger context of Western democracy: “…a leader can more easily create political and legal hierarchies if there are other social hierarchies.” Strongmen rise to power on the shoulders of men mobilized to hate and diminish marginalized groups.

How nationalist populism has been on the rise since the 1980s, and why it isn’t going away anytime soon.

This past week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on climate change was issued, and the takeaway is sobering. In terms of agricultural shifts, natural disasters, coastal region changes, and ecological damage, the scientific consensus is that we will begin tracking even more noticeable and rapid changes in the next twenty years. So, what will produce viable change? Virtue arguments about natural preservation have been only moderately effective in addressing climate change, I wonder if issues of human migration and economy are the only ways to frame the risks in ways that the current political reality will accept or engage. That doesn’t speak well of us as a species…

Friend of the Blog Caitlin Kelly wrote a reported, but also deeply personal piece for the New York Times on her experience with a scary medical scenario and the importance of touch in the medical profession.

I am so excited for this show.

Helena Fitzgerald writes for my soul.

This is a hell of a security breach to simply not tell anyone about for this long! We need to lose the narrative that big data is going to save anything, they are just as muddled as the rest of us.

Denials aside, insert the “she’s running” jokes here. Maybe not just yet, or maybe just for future Secretary of State, but she’s running for something.

I’d absolutely spend money on this.

Woof, this beauty news story keeps spiraling…

I argue the premise with this headline. The NYT story didn’t bomb, it’s relevant. Any under-reaction is further testament to the reality that rich people can get away with operating in the shades of gray because people, governments, and even law enforcement don’t care to look into the machinations and side effects of wealth in the same way that they want to police the side effects of poverty.

Hurry up and get here, already!

What an utterly bizarre article

Although, this piece thoughtfully explores, maybe being bizarre and over exposed is the point. It’s working. The president doesn’t have supporters in the old way, he has a fandom in the new. And the thing about fans is that they are, well, fanatic in their love. That’s the point.

When Things Go Wrong

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.” 
― Kurt Vonnegut

Setting aside the news (which is a heavy lift right now, believe me, I’m so angry about the state of the world I could spit venom), the past couple of weeks have been rough.

I’ve started a new contract that is really exciting and challenging, but I’m not going to lie, it’s not always easy. There are a lot of structural issues to overcome, a less than ideal staffing situation, and frankly not quite enough budget to do what I want. On my good days, I see these as problems and puzzles to solve, which my personality loves, but on rougher days I’ve had a few moments of wondering how on earth I’m going to be able to accomplish what I feel needs to be done.

Gotta laugh.

Dealing with this has thrown off the habits that are usually so good at keeping me healthy and have put me at the best personal performance that I’ve experienced in years. Stress at work has fostered an uptick in my anxiety while workload has made it harder to exercise or keep to a schedule, which has made the anxiety worse, and in turn completely upended my sleep habits.

And then, our apartment sprung another batch of leaks which flowed for a week in spite of any number of increasing irate or panicked phone calls and emails to every person we were directed towards. The flowing water kept me up at nights, exacerbating the sleep situation, a smell of damp grew which was making me ill, we had to set up rubbish bins and buckets in two rooms of our house and couldn’t use our master bathroom. Eventually I had a full blown migraine attack at work, which triggered vertigo, sensory overload awful nausea, and general embarrassment. I looked and felt like something the cat had dragged in, which is NOT how I want to present myself in the workplace…but I didn’t want to go home because goodness knows home hasn’t been a restful place.

I didn’t realize how much of a haven and safe space our apartment was until it became so badly compromised. I’ve been so proud of the house we’ve put together in this space. Having damage spread throughout which we were powerless to stop and had next to no help resolving has felt awful.

Finally, this weekend, part of our ceiling collapsed at 4 in the morning.

I. Was. Done.

We sent off some blistering emails and spent the day sorting our apartment out to the best of our ability. We got some commitments from the landlord (who, to be fair, seems like a perfectly nice man who is equally annoyed with the lack of response we’ve been getting from the two companies he pays to manage his property), and cleaned up the mess as much as we could. For the time being we’ve set up a camp-style bedroom in our living room, but if there isn’t a solution in place by Monday or a timeline to fix the damage, I’m not sure what the solution is besides finding somewhere else to sleep–temporarily or permanently. I’m tired just thinking about the potential logistics.

But weirdly,having something happen that forced me into action was really good for me. Anxiety for me often takes the form of free-floating dread and a growing since of doom that I cannot stop, resolve, or calm down about–usually about circumstances completely beyond my control. That’s the problem. I hate not being in control of things or feeling like there isn’t an action I can take in response to problems. So while the last thing I wanted in the world was a ceiling to fall in, it gave me something to do in response.

I’m not sure what this says about my eccentricities as a person. I’d ten times rather something really bad happened that requires me to do something than the swirling dread of a potential catastrophe. I’d rather the lightning bolt strike.  Which got me wondering how you, the faithful coterie, manage your stressful situations. Do you avoid? Problem solve? Preempt? Disengage? And what techniques or practices help you rebalance when a situation has thrown you off your game? Lend a girl some tips!

Weekend Links: A Bad Week

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” 
― Benjamin Franklin

Guys, it’s been a bad week.

Patriarchy and just plain bad faith and political machinations have struck a victory this week in the US Supreme Court. The last remaining bastion of the US political system that could at least claim a veneer of being apolitical has lost that veneer in this week, and we are all the worse off for it. This wasn’t an appointment process, it was a political campaign of a political operative. And it worked.

The Trumpification of the Republican party is complete and they have solidified their power in shockingly short time. This is, I believe, the 4th Justice nominated by a president who has not won the popular vote. In partisan times where we are increasingly defaulting to scorched earth politics and tirbalism, I think it’s not unreasonable to feel that this could lead to some kind of crisis of legitimacy for the court. The executive is currently unchecked, the legislative branch is out to lunch, and the legitimacy of the courts could fall into question. That feels an awful lot like a constitutional crisis.

Meanwhile, in personal news, our bedroom ceiling collapsed last night. This, after a long week of work, has been something of a final straw to my sanity and I’m logging off this weekend to deal with the subsequent cascading problems and issues required to deal with this scenario. Good luck out there, kittens, and be kind to other people.

IT BEGINS.

How great is this townhouse?!

So…the Kavanaugh investigation was an ass covering sham. Shock. Surprise. This is after the President mocked Dr. Ford at one of his rallies, which is cruel and tasteless in the extreme. Again, shock. Surprise.

Senator Susan Collins was the deciding supporter. A Crowdpac is already raising funds for her eventual seat challenger in response.

Speaking of cruel. What purpose does this serve except to be awful?

Count me among the many who cocked her head to the side at the new creative direction of the Celine brand, and said “WUT.”

Who gets to be a “good” refugee?

Whoa. I feel a bit better about my beauty habits now, but still…whoa. The statistic that Britons spend nearly £4,500 on average doesn’t actually surprise me anymore, even though I’m grateful to say I’m nowhere near that amount. I had a conversation in the last month with a bunch of women who it turns out spend just as much money as I do, but in different ways. Most of the women I know get haircuts more regularly than me, they self tan, get regular manicures. Some wax,  some get semi-permanent services like eyelash or hair extensions, some get fillers, some do absolutely none of the above. But however way you slice it, whether it’s products or procedures, it’s frighteningly easy to overspend in this category and it’s clear to me that as a society, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Caitlin Flanagan hits it out of the park again, with Henry V references, an examination of the 1980s, and how Dr. Ford’s story may have gone differently in a different age. And yet for all that… “But, for what it’s worth—probably nothing—more and more outside observers are starting to believe Ford. And more and more of Kavanaugh’s supporters are starting to move to the quiet position that he might have attacked her, but that he should not pay a price for it…

Give Indonesia a break, Mother Nature! Here are a few ways to help the victims.

Toxic masculinity is not new, not by a long shot, but this particular moment seems to have been building for a long time. This article traces some key roots to MTV’s Pick Up Artist, and the connection makes more sense than I thought when I first heard about the piece.

Reminder there are STILL children in camps and cages.

I am already on the library waitlist for Rebecca Traister’s latest book which explores female anger as a catalyst for change. This interview got me even more hyped up! This other Vox piece really spoke to me. Yes women are angry. But it would be an error to mistake that for being confused or flailing. Women’s anger is often considered a private matter, but it’s becoming permanently public.

A member of the Mormon Feminist Blogger and Literati Set wrote a powerful, personal post this week about the confluence of our shared religious heritage with the current cultural moment. It hit me RIGHT in the feelings… “The weirdest thing about writing is that I am so conditioned to not believe women, that even I don’t believe myself when I write my own stories….We don’t like to talk about those things. Nobody does–even though every single family has them. I absolutely do not blame the women of my blood for their trauma, but I do bitterly denounce them for letting white male supremacy pass on–like a genetic trait, blue eyes or impossible hair–to their children, as if it was their destiny. ”

The New York Times published a year long investigation into the realities of the Trump family’s money. It is a fascinating read and, were we living in normal times, should probably prompt investigations or at the very least calls from Congress for the president to release transparent financial information. I’ve written before about how working in a certain level of the property industry for several years made me much more aware of the shades of gray that the wealth of this world moves through–the shady but often technically legal practices and loopholes that exist and are used by interested parties to shield their money. I wasn’t at all surprised to read about the streams of income that Fred Trump used to channel wealth to his children, nor am I at all surprised to read that President Trump has probably lied about that money flow over the years. And I will not be surprised if there are next to no consequences or actions taken as a result of this reporting, I’m very sorry to say.

In purely trivial news, the Duchess of Sussex stepped out in a look that is Extremely My Aesthetic (right down to the Gabrielle Hearst bag that I loved and secretly longed for for years and can NEVER afford). The Fug Girls are on the case!

I’m not the first to make this observation, but can you imagine the political right’s reaction if President Obama had this capability? The conspiracy theories and comparison to 1984 would have been through the roof. In related news, never have I been as glad to not have a US mobile phone!

Banksy did his usual thing.

And finally, fuck right off, Senator.

September Accountability

“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” 
― Joe Biden

As part of my self accountability in monitoring my spending for the rest of the year, here’s the summary of what I bought this month and why.

Actually, let the record show, this was a pretty good month. I had to do a lot of travel for work, which mean eating on the road, but I’m lucky to be able to expense those meals. We have gotten a bit lazy and sloppy with cooking, which is going to be a big goal over the next month instead, as is exercise, which is something that fell off the radar over the past couple of weeks as I’ve dealt with a dust up of hormones and anxiety. You are never 100% in all areas of your life, but in terms of self control, I’m doing pretty well of late. I credit good friends and effective habit building.

Justifiable purchases: Another humble trouser purchase was required as yet another pair of work pants bit the dust…but as if in answer to a prayer from the sartorial gods, my beloved Everlane finally opened their wares to international shipping! I picked up this pair of fairly reasonably priced trousers and have been extremely happy with the fit.

Less justifiable purchases: I did not, however, strictly need the jumper that also wended its way onto my Everlane checkout screen. I’m calming myself down immediately but come January I will definitely be making another purchase, probably of their ethical cashmere or silk lines.

Takeaway orders: 3 because the Small Dog fam got absolutely lazy this month. SHAME.

Small wins: I did not succumb to a 30% off coupon for a skincare product that I’d definitely like, but do not need until I use up other items in my bathroom cupboard. I also have not, as yet, succumbed to the temptation of Sezane’s fall collection launch–which is difficult because a lot of it is exactly my aesthetic right now.

 

Five Things I Loved in September

“[T]hat old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air … Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.” 
― Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

This month was a bit rough, ducklings. Between the news, our apartment deciding to reenact the Great Flood, and basically doing nothing but work all month, I’m frankly running behind on things that made me actively joyful. And that’s not good.

Like most, when I don’t balance my life and lifestyle well, it tends to have ripple effects that reverberate in my brain and body in unhealthy ways. I’ve become much more attune to my health this past year and am overall in a much better and healthier place in almost every aspect of my life. The downside of this is that I’m also now much more aware when things get off track. I had an uptick in anxiety this month was was CERTAINLY related to the…well…*waves hands generally at the world* but I also didn’t eat as healthy as I normally do, worked long hours when I didn’t need to, and didn’t keep to a sleep schedule. Surprise! All of these things compounded for a few weeks and I had to do the work required to get back on track to feel better.

My pleasure and frivolous fun also took a backseat this month, which probably contributed to an overall malaise. I haven’t read a novel or good nonfiction book in weeks–shame on me! I also have only seen one film, and have mostly be rewatching favorite TV shows as easy watching and self-soothing mechanisms rather than making myself focus on new series or specials. No new music, no new podcasts, and not nearly enough fun.

Basically, I’m slacking. Help me out with your recommendations for pop culture, podcasts, places to eat, or general nonsense on the internet.

That being said, here are a few of the things that did make me smile, helped me towards my goal targets, and generally made me feel good in the month of September!

 

Warehouse shirtdress

This was a cheap buy that feels more expensive than it really is…and I love it. It’s delightfully wacky and colorful and bold. For a girl who doesn’t own or wear a lot of prints, it was an out of character purchase (one I actually made a couple of months ago), but I have been delighted with it in a way that more expensive or simple pieces have not moved me in a long time. My favorite way to wear it at the moment is with a leather jacket and prim jewelry, just to keep people on their toes.

 

Mac Lipstick, in Chili

This warm, orange-y brown-y red is pitch perfect for autumn and in my quest to finish as many beauty products as I can this year, I’ve been wearing it pretty much nonstop this month to get my money’s worth. Switching up clothes and makeup for a new season can be a lot of fun, but I’ve not yet started wearing the darker berry and purple shades that I normally gravitate to in colder months and have been staying faithful to red of late. I’ve finished all the lip products in my 13 By Halloween Challenge, and so am hoping to use this sucker up by Christmas.

 

Killing Eve

Once again I’m late to the party with this, but I had to wait for the BBC to upload the whole series to finally see what all the hype was about. Two women, an intelligence officer and a psychotic assassin, become mutually obsessed with one another in an intricate game of chase. It’s a dark comedy mixed with thriller, mixed with noir and the results are so mixed that you often end up laughing at horrible things and can be a bit unsure who you’re rooting for. Sandra Oh gives a great performance, but so does Jodie Comer as the villain of the piece. I’m clearly in the headspace for strange and oddly-likeable-whilst-being-unlikeable female characters, so do throw any similar media recommendations my way in the comments.

 

Shopping Without Buying

I’ve been upfront about my past retail therapy habits, but I’ve also written extensively about how those habits are changing in positive ways. I had a hankering to go check out a bunch of seasonal beauty and makeup launches and so, on an evening where Jeff had a poker night planned with the guys, I hied myself to Selfridges’ magnificent beauty hall to look at the colors, smell the scents, and even test a few products. It was fun! And I didn’t come home with anything because while it would have been great to pick up some stuff, I didn’t need anything and didn’t justify needless purchasing. Learning to love things and enjoy them in new ways, especially ones that don’t have permanent affect on things like budgets or habits, has been a big theme this year. Speaking broadly, it’s an important life skill.

 

Hannah Louise Potton

On that note, I’ve discovered a wonderful beauty channel on YouTube where the creator is documenting a year long project in not spending. I still miss Kimberly Clark, but this thoughtful take on anti-consumerism has helped scratch an itch and keep me mindful about my own goals.

Weekend Links

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” 
― Elie Wiesel

Remember last week? Approximately thirty years ago?

My god, even in 2018-adjusted terms, this was a hell of a roller coaster and I’m having a hard time trying to put this post together when all I’ve been doing is working, watching the Kavanaugh hearings, and dealing with a fresh set of water leaks in our apartment in my “spare” time. I’m tired and I’m getting sick, which usually happens when the seasons change.

In happier news, a seasonal change means cold weather clothing, and I am ready! Don’t roll your eyes, kittens, in this day and age we need to take whatever trivial joys life gives us with both hands and run.

Here is an extra big heaping does of links for your weekend reading. I will just leave you with the following salute: I adore and am sustained by other angry women–in a way I find hard to explain to even my most sympathetic male friends. Angry women change worlds.

 

Glamour (going out of print, sob!) has a fantastic video series about how women at different salary levels spend their money. It’s interesting, insightful, and is a welcome resource. It’s alarming how little information was out there in terms of financial advice or context geared specifically towards women a few years ago, but I love content that redresses that balance. I really enjoyed their latest especially.

Deeply relevant to my interests and history.

This excellent story about obesity and how we as a society have failed on multiple levels (medically, scientifically, agriculturally, and culturally) to acknowledge and manage it is damning.

Men are cancelled.

The awful things Kavanaugh allegedly did only imperfectly correlate to the familiar frame of sexual desire run amok; they appear to more easily fit into a different category—a toxic homosociality—that involves males wooing other males over the comedy of being cruel to women.” POW. Right in the feels.

Wanting to be part of the solution requires knowing when you’re part of the problem.

What are we saying? What are our girls hearing?

Thank god for male allies. Though I will accept this rebrand.

THANK GOD FOR ANGRY WOMEN. To support the foundation that one of these brave souls serves as executive director, click here. Here’s to Senator Jeff Flake doing…the absolute bare minimum but thank goodness he is and at time of writing it appears there will be a (weirdly limited) investigation into allegations of poor behavior by Judge Kavanaugh. That is literally how these things are supposed to work: an accusation, and investigation, and a weighing of evidence. My cynicism suggests he will still be seated to the Supreme Court, however. Meanwhile, McKay Coppins of The Atlantic was there to snag the interview.

Literally saw this news alert at 9:30pm last night and logged off of everything but Netflix. There is simply too much happening too quickly

What some of the undercurrents of the 40-year mission to stock the courts with conservative justices look like and why.

This was an actual media event here in Britain while we’re debating how much sexual assault is TOO much sexual assault in the US.

In other men behaving badly news: Elon Musk.

And in businesses screwing up again: Facebook. Again. Oy.

What is the connection between Brexit and religion? You may be surprised!

A fantastic collection of photos–I’m struck at how incredibly American these shots look and feel. It feels poignant, especially given the circumstances.

The President gave a BONKERS hour and a half press conference, which I callously and cynically interpreted as a (slightly unhinged) attempt to grab control of the news cycle the next day…just in time for the Kavanaugh hearings and his much hyped meeting with Mr. Rosenstein. Which was subsequently cancelled, probably because of the Kavanaugh hearings.

Being bad at stuff.

I could be reading this wrong, but is the attitude towards climate change literally, “Well it’s happening and we’re all fucked so why change anything” here?

Long live Misty

Let’s talk about tea. (Editor’s note, this is not about tea.)

And finally, I had a bit of a grim realization this morning. Unlike in the Anita Hill hearings, the strategy was never to attack or discredit Dr. Ford, indeed many republicans said that they didn’t doubt her account exactly, they just doubted she was attacked by Brett Kavanaugh. Which is doubting her account. But no matter. They weren’t going to smear her, they were going to let her speak her piece…and then move on and appoint this man regardless. Yesterday I wrote a piece talking about the decision before us all as a society in this moment, not just with Kavanaugh but certainly typified by his hearings: are women acceptable collateral damage? It hadn’t fully hit me that the decision had been taken and the answer was yes. I am not sure what to do with this realization except to remind every last one of you to vote in the midterms. Confirm your registration today, inform yourself of your local ballot, and get ready.