Five Things I Loved In January

2020 is off to an exhausting start and now, looking down the barrel of Brexit and other world issues, just reading the news requires bracing oneself. As I type my country is dealing with a constitutional crisis, while my other country is about to pitch itself out of a 70 year alliance, and the whole world is eyeing a pandemic. It’s STILL only January. Buckle up, kids!

As always, please send me your recommendations in the comments, I rely on your estimable good taste, ducklings!

MAC Russian Red

If ever there was a month that required lipstick as armor, it’s been this January. I’ve been wearing MAC’s Russian Red almost every day for an extra boost of bravery and, as ever…it works. My only blu-ish red shade of warpaint, it makes me feel like a badass on days when I feel anything but. Much ink has been spilled on the power of a red lip, but as a totem, it’s pretty darn reliable.

 

Full Metal Alchemist

My introduction to anime continued this month and I’m enjoying it so much more than I thought I would. I credit this significantly to the Manga exhibition we saw at the British Museum over the summer, which helped me understand the art form as a total novice and gave me a lot of important context to appreciate anime more generally. Cultural heritage institutions are amazing, people, support them with your money!

 

Educated, by Tara Westover

I’m ridiculously late to this memoir that had everyone talking for years, but I’m so glad I finally got here. While my Mormonism is in no way similar to the doomsday extremist version that she was raised with, I recognize the rhythms of her language and phrases ones I share. Though on a small scale, it makes me understand what individuals and communities mean by representation – reading her work, even though our lives are disparate, I understand the emotions she describes and the experiences she references in a deep and visceral way. Her journey from a girl without a birthday or birth certificate to PhD is inspiring on its face, but the power of this book is in how well she describes her inward journey from ignorance to the beautiful and awful expanse of knowledge. It’s amazing. It’s also lonely and painful and comes at tremendous cost. Academic accolades aside, the narrative is not about what she achieves so much as how she learns to be a complex human being with agency. I think a male version of this story would be more heroic in its depiction, more triumphant in its closure. Grappling with herself as a woman, an individual, a person, allows her to tell a very different kind of hero’s journey than the rags to riches, ignorance to financial success tales that are more common.

 

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed For Men

From the sublime to the ridiculous…I can’t remember the last time a book made me so angry. It’s reported nonfiction and its subject is how the male body, male mind, male psyche and so on is still the template on how much of our world is designed. From scissors too large for most women’s hands, to seatbelts not designed for breasts or differently shaped pelvises in preventing injuries, it details how much of the world is Not For Us.

The Good Place

What a joy this show has been, and how sorry I am to see it go. Clever premise, joke-packed writing, deep concepts, perfect aesthetic, delightful cast. Would that all series had two of any of the above much less all of them. If you have not yet indulged, do yourself a favor this weekend: grab a pal, a bottle of booze, get cozy and enjoy a romp through the afterlife while discussing the nature of ethics. Seems dull? Hardly!

7 thoughts on “Five Things I Loved In January”

  1. In reference to Invisible Women, I’ve heard about how cars are designed to keep men safe in accidents, but not women, solely based on the crash test dummies, which are anatomically designed after a man. Interesting stuff. I’ll have to read the book and “buckle up” for getting pissed off.

    1. Like I said, I think I GET Educated in a lot of ways and she writes a journey that I understand and have seen other women go through (albeit at a totally different sense of scale). I didn’t get a sense of misery so much as existential crisis. They are often conflated, but I don’t think they are the same thing – at least they weren’t for me.

      But it is definitely not an easy read.

  2. Educated was amazing!

    I work in a hospital and the scrubs are all designed for men, they’re huge and unflattering on women. I’m in the military and despite many attempts they haven’t mastered the female uniform. Not to mention it is harder to find the female uniform for purchase.

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