Category: Humor

Sunday Check In

This week I’m thinking a lot about people and isolation, in particular the idea of isolationism.

I don’t get it and I think if anything dooms us, it will be this idea of radical individualism without self knowledge.

In the parlance of the meme, we live in a society.

Societies are interdependent, complex, and messy but the underlying premise is that we’re more likely to survive in a team than on our own. I believe that. And taking that to some logical conclusions is what forms my sense of justice, ethics, politics, and rightness.

I think that the reason I’m so deeply turned off by hyperisolationist views is that I’ve never come across a single one that isn’t founded on some sense of what I feel to be deeply entrenched privilege and selfishness at its core. White supremacy and nativism both posit that the “in group” is good and pure and what’s bringing it down is the “out group.” And could we but rid ourselves of them, we’d all be living on easy street. Almost to a man, every single person I know who espouses “libertarian” views is – without irony – a landed white male. And again almost to a man, all of them are convinced that their success is based wholly on merit and would have been replicated if they had been born in a dramatically different demographic. They shouldn’t be obligated to enable others’ success because “no one enabled theirs.” I have tried to understand this worldview but must confess I lack sufficient imagination. I’m equally annoyed by the doom and gloom contingent of internet shitlords who proclaim they want to “burn everything down,” because as Natalie Wynn put it, “You only get to watch the world burn if you have the privilege of not being on fire.”

Why are some people so angry and offended at the notion of being obligated to care for or prioritize others? How has this been turned into a notion of theft rather than collective investment from which we all benefit? How did mild inconvenience become repackaged as tyranny? I don’t understand the performative selfishness and defiance that has been twisted into some sense of virtue. My best working theory is that wealth, security, health and power are so out of reach for so many people that we’re all just sort of trying to cling to whatever we’ve got, or snatch away from others what we can. Which sort of makes sense as an emotional short term reaction but is horrific as a long term strategy.

I am delighted to pay taxes that fund elementary schools even though I don’t have children because, I know I benefit from living in an educated society. I am GRATEFUL to live in a country where my taxes fund the NHS because my right to health is not dependent on my job – as if basic health must be earned and those who can’t or don’t are somehow expendable (which is just eugenics, but with more steps). I change my shopping and eating habits because I don’t want to lose Indonesia, Miami, Venice and Greenland to the ocean, even though I live none of the those places. I am happy to stay inside on a glorious spring weekend because if I don’t someone who I don’t know and have no connection to may be endangered.

No man is an island, wrote John Donne.

Weekend Links

Beloveds, we’re another week in and looking at our first full month of lockdown. Let’s share some weekend reading or links in the comments and enjoy one another’s company a bit, eh? The weather in London is (annoyingly) beautiful, so we’ll be throwing a picnic in our living room and tidying our house with the windows open. Keep well, kittens.

As more than one Twitter commentator has noted, for all of the Mad Max (aka hyper masculine) versions of catastrophe, it turns out that the skills we need are more in the (traditionally female) realm of food organization, emotional management, and providing care. The “apocalypse” is not what people expected. Good. May we learn some lessons from this.

This is both a fabulous illustrated travel essay and insightful. The line that got me, however: “Our situation is shit, but this is the fertilizer of the future.”

Water water, everywhere…but not enough for all of us to drink.

Bill Gates revisits his highly prescient TED Talk in a longform interview.

His single saving grace may be his breathtaking ability to just say the quiet parts out loud for us.

They CAN edit or deplatform bad actors, but they largely choose not to. When all this is over, we’ll see if those policies or practices stand.

I suspect there are a lot of empty hotel rooms right now. Meaning that this isn’t responsible, it’s despicable.

On the side of the goats.

But disasters and emergencies do not just throw light on the world as it is. They also rip open the fabric of normality. Through the hole that opens up, we glimpse possibilities of other worlds. Some thinkers who study disasters focus more on all that might go wrong. Others are more optimistic, framing crises not just in terms of what is lost but also what might be gained. Every disaster is different, of course, and it’s never just one or the other: loss and gain always coexist. Only in hindsight will the contours of the new world we’re entering become clear.”

Basic math.

Amazon is not the only option. Support independent book businesses.

…yeah…sounds right

Count me among the many victims of this quiz. And hot damn, I’ll take this result!

Friday Talk: What are you Watching?

Reader, we mainlined Tiger King and it’s as bonkers as everyone says. More in the monthly favorites catch up (I suspect) unless something overtakes it.

And let’s face it, something might!

For years I’ve been bemoaning that the age of “peak TV” has left us all with more than we could possibly watch. Lots of us are about to find out whether that’s truth or dare. What are you watching – good, bad, guilty, serious, trashy, and enlightening? Let’s chat!

In Praise of Saying **** It

There’s a lot of motivational talk going around (which the New York Times tackled here) and while I myself am guilty of being a bit of a goal setter and productivity freak, I’d like to argue the other side of the coin for a change…

YOU KNOW, SEEING AS HOW THE WORLD HAS COME TO A SCREECHING AND WEIRD HALT, OR SOMETHING.

You are under no obligation to pick up a new hobby, become a professional baker, cook every meal from scratch, exercise everyday, or finish your To Do list. This goes double if you have children or other dependents for which you are responsible. A pandemic is not a reason to “up your game” or “maximize your output.” If you’re hyper or looking to channel your anxiety or feelings in a healthy way, that’s one thing, but if you are allowing yourself to spiral down into self-recrimination and flagellation, stop.

Let the kids watch movies all day. Eat cookies for dinner. Binge a trashy show for fun. Reread a comic you’ve read a million times already. Log off if you’re done with work for the day and leave the dishes in the sink tonight. Moderation in all things, kittens, and that means optimization too.

In the long haul ahead of most of us, saying “**** it” every once in a while is a perfectly acceptable option on the spectrum of choices.

 

April Moodboard

This month, we’re indoors. We’re dressing comfortably (but not sloppily – unless that’s your thing, in which case GO FORTH. I support you!). We’re caffeinating to our eyeballs. We’re baking and cooking and propagating our houseplants to grown an indoor jungle.

I don’t care how basic any of this makes me, it’s all soothing. The last weeks of March were a riot of activity and, as I’ve previously blogged, I’m very worried that this month will hit a lot of people (including myself) harder as the slowdown really starts to impact people beyond the frontline. To be clear, the frontline are all the worker across all the sectors and industries who have mobilized against this – everything from doctors and nurses to truck drivers and grocery store workers. All of them are rightfully deserving of applause (and ALSO living wages, healthcare, benefits and unions where they don’t already exist). They deserve more than claps in a time of crisis, they deserve support and respite in peace and prosperity.

And, given that this is the month that the more fortunate privileged will start to feel a bite, we may have a chance to work and vote for it. As obnoxious as it is, it’s often when the privileged feel or are affected that the changes and causes long championed by others begin to grow roots. People will be furloughed or made redundant, businesses will have to rethink ways of working not just in the immediate future but perhaps permanently. We can be annoyed or petulant about this, or we can USE IT.

So rest up, kittens. Do the work you have and start thinking about the work and life you also want to have. If you’re lucky, you have a window to take steps in that direction. If you’re moral, you’ll think about how to smooth the way for those who find it more difficult.

Season of renewal indeed.

Five Things I Loved In March

Well hey, kittens. If ever there was a time to swap some pop culture or lifestyle suggestions, this is it. Here are the things that got me through March and please please PLEASE send me your favorites because let’s face lots of us have some time to kill!

 

 

Granado Nail Polish, in Rita

This was a cheap pickup in Paris from a pharmacy. I find it hard to find the RIGHT shade of true red nail polish – it either skews too pink or blue – but this is it. A vibrant red that perfectly straddles the blue/yellow undertone divide. It also has excellent staying power and nearly lasted a week on me without chipping – unheard of!

Castlevania, on Netflix

I came to this property completely new, I had no experience of the games it was based on or the fandom. But I enjoyed this series immensely! Don’t be misled by it’s animation status, it’s definitely adult themed in terms of violence and sex, but if that doesn’t put you off – enjoy! The voice acting talent is phenomenal and the characters are wonderfully portrayed – even and perhaps especially the bad ones. And refreshing in the fantasy genre, there are all kinds of female characters including breathtakingly competent and powerful ones. Even MORE refreshingly, it isn’t a subject of discussion within the show so much as it’s a matter of fact. If after the disappointment of Game of Thrones (yes, I’m still bitter) and the fun of The Witcher you’re craving a new fun/dark/sexy/funny fantasy, I recommend.

Utopia for Realists, Rutger Bregman

If anything comes out of this horrible series of circumstances in the world right now, it might be a willingness to experiment and push back on what we have too long declared “the way things are.” At least, I’m choosing to be optimistic. From taxation to civic mindedness to investment in the arts…society isn’t a business and for the love of god, let’s stop trying to run it as one. This is a short book, summarizing research and experiments run on a number of topics, and explains the historical progression of ideas and ideologies. Well worth a read, whatever your political persuasion.

 

Burberry Lip Velvet lipstick in Military Red

Ah March, the month of remote working and multiple video conference calls. We may be fully dressed, we may be in yoga pants, but we’re all visible from the neck up. The lipstick I’ve been reaching for to cope is this glorious, vibrant red (which coincidentally pairs beautiful with my nail polish recommendation). Already feeling a bit run down or sloppy? I cannot recommend a red lip enough.

 

In Our Time, BBC podcast

Let famed historian Melvyn Bragg and guests dive deeply into a topic for in an hour or less. Whether profound philosophy, scientific discovery, Roman poetry, or gamechangers of history, it’s an excellent podcast to plug in while cooking, working, or just taking a break.

The Year of Back to Basics: March

Hi there. Coronavirus has consumed everything, and yet this month was still an okay one all things considered, for working towards goals.

Money

Yes, we spent money this month, but it was to go to Paris with my best friend and we regret nothing. We got a bargain on an AirBnB listing and spent a long weekend with one of my favorite people in the world and her significant other, whom we both like tremendously. It may not be a kosher thing to celebrate right now, but I’m intensely grateful we had an international jaunt, no matter how short, before the coronavirus really got off the ground and isolation guidance kicked in.

We ate good food, drank good wine, stopped by French pharmacies, and generally wandered the city. It was a tonic! I picked up two pieces of treasure this trip, a bottle of perfume exclusive (for now) to France and a mint condition collector’s piece from my favorite costume jewelry shop! It was more expensive than I was planning to spend, but I think we can all agree that this was worth the coin. X. is a lover and connoisseur of perfume and took me to several boutique shops while the boys drank cocktails at the Hemingway bar in the Ritz. All in all, a perfect long weekend!

And since then, we are holed up in our apartment, leaving only to go to our local grocery store or when I get stir crazy and need to be taken for a walk like a hyperactive terrier. Healthy? No. Good for the wallet? To an astonishing degree. We’re doing one meal a week where we get “take out” from our local independent restaurants to try and our bit for businesses that we know are struggling, but otherwise our only spending has been to replace groceries and toiletries.

 

Relationships

Text chains and Facetime calls with friends and family, lots of cuddles with my husband, and lots of communication wherever possible right now. Therapy sessions continue online, which I appreciate more than I can say. Given social distancing, I’m grateful for what I’ve got!

 

Basic bitch

We ate our bodyweight in carbs and wine in Paris. The first week of quarantine, we were the textbook definition of naughty: we ate what we wanted and snacked incessantly. The second week we made a conscious decision to exercise daily, eat real food, limit snacking and other health related priorities. Our day-to-day lives have shrunk dramatically in terms of space and scale but we’re trying to manage it as best we can.

 

Elsewhere

Ticked off one reading goal.

Paid off another credit card!

Read a bunch of Agatha Christie in aid of another reading goal. Murder!

Continued to bake and listen to albums.

Started a couple of goals related to keeping up a good mood and prioritizing gratitude. What better time to start than a pandemic!

Blogging every day (another goal, and also a sanity saver)