Category: COVID

Sunday Check In

Happy weekend, kittens. I type this to you from the beginnings of an urban jungle as my indoor garden of plants grew yesterday. We live in a boom time for plants, and if I’m lucky I won’t kill these…pray for my brave chlorophyll children!

It’s not hard to see how quarantine has focused us on our home space, but it’s amazing to me how much we’ve done to organize it and tidy our own in the last month. We’ve hung some art and better managed our kitchen space. We are also looking at some cheap but decent Ikea furniture for some additional storage space in our living room which begins to look…nice. More grown up than any of our previous homes. There’s an actual color scheme: gray and blue and cream, with punches of red and (of all things!) bright pink. Trust me, it works.

We’ve also probably never been as good about laundry and general cleaning as we have been for the last few weeks. Easy when you’re at home full time instead of trying to cram your weekly cleaning into a half day on the weekends! While again it’s a statement of huge privilege, I’m grateful that we’ve had the ability to focus on and improve our home in these times – even if that’s only meant vacuuming daily or unwrapping artwork from protective plastic where it’s languished for months.

How are you looking after your home space now? Have you had to make changes to manage your home or work life from it better? If you are not at home full time right now, what is your connection to your home space?

 

Weekend Links – May Day, May Day!

Well, we made it, kittens. April is behind us and good riddance. Short and sweet today as we’re powering through the last few hours before the weekend…even though it won’t look massively different from our weekdays.

Nonetheless, this weekend I intend to enjoy the sunshine, cuddle effusively with my husband, and cook. Let me know your plans in the comments, and I promise to cheer them on whatever they are.

We elected our dumbest and worst person to be president. You cannot convince me otherwise at this point.

New single from The 1975, one of my favorite bands.

Culture matters in good times, but it matters desperately in rough ones. Take advantage of the artistic generosity swelling forth, but also donate if you can now and commit to funding it when you can later.

2020 is so wild that this barely broke into my awareness this week.

Shall we volunteer, Small Dog Nation?

As I spend more time cooking, I am thinking more about cookbooks (as opposed to family recipes, or what I find on pinterest or online). But I have read few as BOOKS, and plan to rectify this.

Andrew Yang was an unusual candidate in that he seemed fully focused on future problems and did not sugar coat the risks he saw. While he was never my preference, I’m pleased he advocated for certain issues and found this interview with him to be worth a read given the state of the world.

This may be the only time a mediocre book review compels me to read the book in question, because it so perfectly encapsulate a current moment that it might feel remiss not to. “As I read The End of October, I found myself resenting it. It was such a silly potboiler of a novel, with such unbelievable characters, such leaden sentences, such infuriatingly clumsy dialogue. How dare the world in which I am actually living so closely resemble a fucking airport thriller?

Yes, I have read “the nanny piece.” No, I have no further comments beyond “Eat the rich.”

The coming war between venues of all kinds, artists, distributors, and agents is going to be nuts. I don’t think movie theatres or theatrical venues are ever going to go away (if the last five thousand years of human history are anything to go by). But that doesn’t mean they won’t, or shouldn’t change. Concerts won’t stop, but I also hope artists will continue to stream straight to their fans when all this is over. I hope gyms will continue to provide online classes. I hope the ways in which we consume and enjoy all manner of things stays accessible and doesn’t just serve to make a few people rich.

Longtime readers will know that Small Dog Nation stans Yoga with Adrienne, so seeing her process and success detailed was both pleasurable and genuinely interesting. She’s a great exercise resource, especially right now.

Celebrating good spuds and good people.

Either we take sexual assault claims seriously or we don’t. Biden needs to provide answers to these accusations, the public needs to grapple with them and come to a consensus and partisanship won’t cut it. His statement today and call for transparency is the right first step, investigation must follow.

Death to FOMO.

Sunday Check In

I’m not going to lie, piglets, this week was probably the roughest yet. This was the week that tempers frayed, that the tension between old and new work challenges clashed, that the reduced paycheck landed. Thank goodness for the latter, but a grim sort of victory as it compels one to think of colleagues on furlough and how grateful we all are to have a job and something of a social safety net. I also heard from friends and loved ones who are staring down the barrel of unemployment.

Conversation after conversation has the same theme: any sense of adventure is more or less gone, we’re now in the slog, and some of that slog is increasingly scary. The stores are no longer completely bare but we’re still shopping strategically.

This week finally broke me a bit, when it comes to news. My work days have been labor-intensive still so any news breaking through to me is usually related to organizations or clients we work with or industry effects that are rippling outward. When I’d log off from my professional life and into my personal one, the sheer inanity vexed me and I’d log straight back off again. When I saw there was “a conversation” about whether or not people should inject or ingest disinfectants to kill COVID-19, in response to the daily bullshittery of the DC pressers, I nearly threw my laptop across the room. I wisely decided to focus on catching up on podcasts or books instead.

In short, I’m a bit glum. And so to counter the despondency, I’ve scheduled some premium friend time throughout this weekend and upcoming week. Calls and impromptu virtual book clubs, all the better to share and laugh, my dears.

What are you over this past week, what are you doing to care for yourself and other this coming one?

Weekend Links

Happy Friday, ducklings. It’s been a hell of a week. Work continues to be rewarding but tiring, the news continues to be bad (PLEASE don’t inject yourself with bleach, team…)

Ouch. This one landed right in the feels.

Pop culture critic and unabashed musical lover Lindsay Ellis took on CATS. And she is 100% correct.

Some really good ideas and tips in this vlog about taking some time whilst we’re all at home to maintain your wardrobe items.

How are cities going to change in the future? It’s not original to say they are expensive and stressful to live in (even those of us who love them), but how might COVID-19 force societal shifts, even if they were already in the making?

Good for them. No one is required to be complicit in their own abuse, especially after having taken the decisions they have to reduce their public obligations.

Another potential positive outcome to this whole mess: a correct recalibration on the importance of science over anecdote. I’m on record as finding the Anti Vaxx movement dangerous and, in my opinion, a by product of other pernicious elevations of opinion over reason and bizarre tribalism. I’d be delighted to see their platforms and influence vanish.

Bleeding hell. There’s been some stabilising since but it’s an example of exactly how bad things can get – and how the economy is NOT the stock market.

Yes, Stanley, I think we all need that drink right about now.

Big Data for union busting. Yay…

If you’re looking for some quarantine exercise routines, Instagram is here to help! My newest find is Psycle London’s live feed and subsequently posted classes. Send me your recs in the comments.

Reminder – this is classic and academically documented troll behavior, and there is a history of tactic coordination that appears local but isn’t. Apply healthy scepticism accordingly.

Active force for good in the world.

Active force for depression, but worth reading.

Me reading this story:

Sunday Check In

Hi ducklings, how are we all doing this week?

This week an additional group of colleagues was furloughed, one that contained many of my favorite coworkers and work friends. I know it’s temporary but I’m going to miss hanging out with these people (at least digitally) until they are back. We have awesome group chats!

Other than that, this was also a week where I’ve had some uncomfortable exchanges with people, personally and professionally. Stress is getting to lots of people, myself included, and our experiences are all individual and personal. It can make common ground harder to establish. I’m trying to remember my own calls for kindness while also speaking up when I feel is necessary. It’s a balancing act – some days I nail it, other days I get it wrong.

How about you? How was this week? What are your personal circumstances? What would you like people to better appreciate about your experience or point of view right now?

Weekend Links

Sharp and sweet this week, my ducklings. It’s been another frantic one and I’m out of energy to do anything but read and veg. Check in and let me know how you’re doing!

 

No kidding

On the one hand, it’s nice to know my wacky dreaming is not just my brain short circuiting. On the other, share your most bizarre ones in the comments!

I’ve been screaming for a more creative society where we experiment with solutions far more than we do now, and here was a refreshing attempt. What would you experiment with? Tell me in the comments again, I’m highly interested in hot takes!

The legend of Mary Magdalene, a thoughtful read following Easter Week on the individual, the history of christendom, and evolution of religious belief.

Well, this is grim

What an ugly, small, vainglorious awful man.

He’s going to get people killed. More of them, I mean.

Not great, team.

No, I’m still not over Tiger King. This is just gravy at this point.

I am among the many Animal Crossing widows.

PROTECT CAPTAIN TOM AT ALL COSTS.

The economist who has made me think and rethink my opinions on more financial issues in my lifetime is Mark Blyth, based out of the Watson School for International and Public Affairs at Brown University. He’s given many informative (and entertaining) talks over the years, about macro and micro economic histories with an emphasis on how fiscal policy affects political and cultural trends. Two virtual podcasts/seminars to shout out this week from him, one serious and the other more fun. “Facts are behind paywalls, rumors are free of charge.” 

A question we badly need to answer and soon.

I delight in museum Twitter battles!

Their strategy has always been to drown out inconvenient facts with a noisy barrage of distortions—to “flood the zone with shit,” as Steve Bannon once put it. But in recent weeks, the president and his allies have been waging a dystopian campaign of revisionist history more brazen than anything they’ve attempted before.”

What I know for sure…

I’ve blogged everyday for a month, one of my goals, and while I don’t think I’ll keep up the same pace, it’s been really useful to help process the first four weird weeks of lockdown. I’m sure weirder is to come but in the meantime, a few things I’m positive about:

Showering and putting on clothes even when you don’t “have” to is important.

I appreciate walks a lot more now.

Lipstick covers a multitude of video conferencing aesthetic ills.

Community is vital.

Rich friendships are worth their weight in gold.

Takeaway is a treat not a way of life.

Work and life are not, and should not be, the same thing.

Doing nothing is okay, and we’re not supposed to be productivity machines.

Twitter is not real life.

You can’t control everything about your mental space but you can probably control more than you think (and if you can’t, you are deserving of kindness and help to do so).

Taking care of and responsibility for our fellow man is non-negotiable.

Nobody is really in charge and we’re all just trying to do the best we can with the information we’ve got.

Scene of the crime.

The Year in Baking Thus Far

Kittens, I’m calling it. I’m a third of the way through this challenge to bake weekly for a year, having begun it over the 2019 Christmas holidays, but I need to press pause. I enjoy baking and I think it’s better to make your own sweets than buy them, but this is a pace I cannot continue without more exercise than quarantine measures allow. I know vanity isn’t the highest motive to claim, but as a person who requires effort to keep her weight level to say nothing of dropping, this is not conducive to my long term happiness.

But I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t celebrate and share the sugar goods which have gotten me through 2020 so far. I’m pivoting to healthier cooking for the time being, but I’d be delighted to live vicariously through any of you who care to try the below and share your efforts!

Gingerbread cookies

Banana bread

Cheese scones

Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake 

Midnight Mocha Cheesecake

Savory Oatmeal Cookies

Classic chocolate chip cookies

Classic chocolate chip cookies again, because Jeff ate all of them!

Classic chocolate chip cookies AGAIN by request. Why mess with a good thing?

Pear tart with goat cheese and honey

Apple cinnamon tart

Classic chocolate chip cookies AGAIN because I had to get it done and was down to the wire this week

Coconut Thins

Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies again – because they are seriously addictive

Banana Bread

Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies AGAIN

Earl Gray Yogurt Cake (a reader recommendation and SO GOOD)

 

Happy Freaking Easter…

Happy Easter from a former-mormon-currently-agnostic-humanist-stillmormonfeminist-effective-altruistic-mess. For those who believe and celebrate, I wish you a blessed day in unusual circumstances. For those who don’t, I hope the more general spirit of seasonal renewal and hope refreshes you. I particularly appreciated the sermon from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and some comments from one of my former religious community’s leaders at their semi-annual gathering last week.

Malignant radicalism has led to a lot, if not most, of our collective problems as a species over my lifetime. Tribalism, performative politics, terrorism, homophobia, cruelty, misogyny, inequality, racism, and destructive hubris all seem to require it.

Whether religiously motivated or not, I would like to see that same fervor turned towards radical kindness over spite, radical collective care rather than radical self interest. The radical dismissal of selfishness that most faiths, at their best and most appealing, call for and encourage.

What kind of world would it be where we stopped trying to legislate others’ morality and focused more on living our own? Where we stopped using contractualism as an excuse to deny care to one another? Where we felt a sense of obligation to one another simply because we’re all specks of dust together on a slightly larger speck of dust hurtling madly and briefly through the void, and not just animals doomed to hunt or be hunted? Where care and community, or in other parlance salvation, isn’t based on transaction or complicated formulas?

Might be nice.