Category: Humor

The Year of Back to Basics: May

Another weird month in lockdown, a lot of plans disrupted, a lot of progress to celebrate or report back on.

Money

After a lot of governmental shenanigans, stimulus checks arrived for expats and we put ours straight towards debt without hesitating. The ‘Rona may still hold sway but we are staying steely-eyed and focused.

Money was spent however, especially since I shredded my athletic shoes and put irreparable holes in my workout pants – in the crotch and thighs no less. Fetching! Both were replaced. We picked up some household goods like pairing knives, a cooling fan, and an Ikea shelf, and I also bought a batch of new knickers to replace pairs that I’ve owned since before we moved to the UK and were becoming, er, unbecoming. And then, I confess that stress lipstick was purchased at one point.

I plan on purchasing some additional items for summer – believe it or not, I don’t own any shorts and seeing as how we’re already sweating in our city flat in late May, it looks like August is going to roast us – but after that, I’m going to close down the wallet for several months. I’ve got everything I need and am trying to be extra careful to stay aware of needs vs. wants right now.

 

Relationships

Long calls with siblings and parents, good therapy sessions, controlled mental health symptoms, positive work relationships. My friendships have not had the focus I wanted this month, so will be spending more energy on that in June.

 

Basic Bitch

Weight was a problem this month, no two ways about it. But I’ve been sticking with my virtual barre classes (shoutout in my favorites post of last month!) and have started tracking my food again, because while it might be basic, it’s honestly the best way to keep myself on a health track. I upgraded a free app to a annually paid version to help with this and it’s helped. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH – do not focus negatively on your quarantine response and coping mechanisms. My health and weight goals predated the pandemic and we’re all doing the work to figure out what healthy means for us on individual and macro levels right now. This is what’s working for me, but YOU DO YOU, BOO.

 

Elsewhere

More Agatha Christie. Also lots of romance novels, because self care. I’ve nearly read 100 books so far this year!

I declared my “make a garden” project ticked off. We don’t have a terrace anymore and I can’t see us moving for a very long time, so I’ve built an indoor Eden instead. As the proud mother of 13 thriving plants, I think we can adjust this one a bit.

Dramatic reduction of plastic in my life, blog post coming.

 

 

 

Sunday Check In

A little while ago a tweet ran across my timeline that I have not been able to stop thinking about:

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This one hit so deep my bones felt bruised. It was just so accurate.

2019 was probably one of the most substantive years of my career, and it turned out to be one of the most important of my marriage/family and friend relationships. It was a tough year in many ways, and a really rewarding one in others. Most of all, it felt progressive in the sense that I was able to actually feel and see my own progress. Money and career felt steadier than they had for the entire decade prior, my mental and emotional health felt more under my own command than any time I could remember – life felt like something I was living and moving through intentionally rather than something that was buffeting me along.

I don’t have a single friend who wasn’t experiencing some version of hard work paying off in a significant sphere of their lives. It didn’t diminish the very real, grown up challenges many of us were managing…but we were managing them.

And now, we’re looking at our third full month of some kind of lockdown, side eyeing the people who are acting as if government official guidance has changed (it hasn’t, substantively), and honestly debating what our summer will look or feel like. Everything – from the economy to social life to a sense of “normal” – has just stopped.

The sudden, crashing halt from progress to stagnation is unsettling and vertigo inducing. We’re all just waiting to see what happens next, and planning for the future is so theoretical as to be useless.

My 34th birthday is coming up and I’ll be spending it in lockdown. We’ve been in it since mid March and we’re nearly at the halfway point of 2020. Who knows where Jeff’s birthday will find us in fall. We talk about it jokingly, and I try to keep a cosmic sense of humor about it overall, but what does it mean to “write off” several months if not a year of our lives? Not entirely of course, life goes on in lockdown but it’s not life as many of us know it – and has a heaping pile of anxiety and stress on top of it all as an added bonus.

Will we travel to see Jeff’s family as we planned? We haven’t seen family face-to-face in about two years. Will we go back to our offices in any way, or is our “work life” fundamentally and permanently altered? If the latter, even if you’re happy about it, how will we adjust to this? How long will it take? Will I have a job in two months? Boy I hope so. Will there be a recession (probably unless you think that we’re already in one, which is a compelling argument to me)? Another one?! Yes. How will we handle it? *Lol shrug.*

Sorry to be a bit of a downer this week – it’s mostly due to hormones, so don’t take it too seriously. But if you too are struggling with this feeling of “stuckness” please let me know, and how you’re dealing with it.

Off to perk myself up with a Bank Holiday weekend mimosa and some vitamin D through our open window.

 

Weekend Links – Bring on the Bank Holiday!

Ducklings, it’s a Bank Holiday weekend and the links are dropping early because mama needs to lie in a sunbeam and do as little as possible for three days. I mean, let’s be real that’s my usual go to, but with quarantine we do it with GUSTO.

This week I introduced Jeff to Fleabag and he got me to finish The Last Dance which I enjoyed tremendously, in spite of not being a sports person outside of live collegiate games.

I know the weather is brilliant in the UK right now, but guys…please don’t be dumb. There’s still a pandemic on. Act accordingly.

 

I’m obsessed with the squirtgun priest. More creativity in unusual times, please!

A charming story about my favorite wildlife critter.

A firm rebuttal to my post of earlier this week. Okay, okay I’ll give up on the self-loathing already!

The British Museum is producing a film of its famous Pompeii exhibition and making it available for free. (YouTube)

As a long time fan of The Financial Diet, this podcast episode (doubling up as a YouTube vid) discussing the ephemeral nature of fame and fortune that we’ve been living with (and completely rebuilt commerce and social capital around) was a great listen.

One of the few bright spots out of this mess, but also a sobering reminder of what it will take to affect climate change trends.

Setting aside the batshit craziness (which is admittedly a challenge) can we all agree at this point that the one thing we cannot and should not do is take the guy “at his word?

God, I hope we don’t go back, at least not the way things were.

Elegant and refined solution. Pure couture.

It’s bad faith all the way down and has been for a long time.

Yes, let’s experiment!

Still don’t really get where QAnon came from, what it encompasses, and what people who believe in it…believe? This is a long read, but worth your time.

Reader survey: trolling or a side effect of that unproven med we cannot be sure that he’s taken or not – thanks to the masterful work of a press release that refuses to confirm or deny whether he’s been dosed.

Trolls and Twitter eggs are going to kill us all… I don’t think anyone imagined the great science fiction digital undoing of our world to be this stupid.

Speaking of Twitter, yes, I followed this privileged saga and thought Roman really didn’t do herself any favors, but cannot help but contrast her being “on leave” while other (male) columnists have actively attacked and pursued punishing actions against critics (Bedbug Stephens, anyone?) and still have their jobs.  Roman publicly apologized and Teigen publicly accepted.

And in THIS week’s drama of white women trying to elevate themselves by comparing or contrasting themselves to other women – particularly women of color – Lana del Ray pulled one out too, on Our Lady and Savior Beyonce no less!

An Unattractive, First World Struggle Post

I know this isn’t the time to be beating ourselves up over our bodies, especially if they are healthy and functioning, but in spite of my goals I’ve managed to gain weight in quarantine and it’s really bumming me out.

The sensible part of my brain rolls its metaphoric eyes as I type that. Stress has always made me gain weight and circumstances are not exactly relaxing right now. Adhering to social distancing guidelines and guidance to stay at home, which we’ve taken seriously, has drastically curtailed physical movement. While I’ve been pretty good with exercise and have really committed over the past couple of months, my eating has been all over the place (see stress comment above). The toll is…exactly what you might expect.

It’s the most basic of basic bitch issues, but I really struggle with my body image. I’m small but not naturally slim and never have been. I’m not delicate petite, I’m squashed petite: normal sized skeletal proportions scrunched down vertically but not horizontally. It vexes me. In blatant rebuke to a lifetime of girl power and love yourself messaging, I do not like my corporeal form very much. I’ve gone through more positive phases and some crushingly bad ones, and right now I’m somewhere in the “negative to meh” zone.

This isn’t a plea for validation, or designed to make anyone else feel any type of way about their bodies – especially if in quarantine! But it’s an honest update against one of my year-long goals and how it’s making me feel. I’m working on getting rid of the negativity but I’m finding it difficult this week.

If you too feel the need to complain about something pointless and selfish, my comments are open for you to get it out of your system. We don’t judge at Small Dog Nation.

 

 

Sunday Check In

Somehow, we’re halfway through May, which means it’s almost June which basically means we’re practically halfway through this wacky year. I’m simultaneously freaked out, glad, disheartened, grateful, and grumpy all at the same time about this fact. It’s such a confusing time and I spend a lot of time flitting from one inappropriate reaction to the next. Hey ho, onwards.

After last weekend’s internet outage and another surprisingly frantic week at work, this weekend we have been about settling a bit. Being at home has made us focus on home in a way that, er…living in this apartment for nearly a year hadn’t yet… We ordered a basic Ikea shelving unit to help improve our storage and I picked up yet more houseplants. Oops. But the fact is that I’m really loving the way our living room – where I’m spending the vast majority of my time – is coming together. In spite of our last apartment being by far our nicest (we’re missing that terrace right now, I can tell you), this one is shaping up to feel the most homelike of any of the four we’ve lived in thus far. I’m hoping we can stay here for a long time, it just works for us.

Is anyone else experiencing this feeling about their home or space right now, or are you just sick of it and bursting to break out?

Weekend Links

Two links post in a single week, my doves, you’re either really lucky or we’re in the middle of a global pandemic that forbids us from leaving our houses. How are you keeping this weekend, beloveds?

Why yes, Small Dog Nation WOULD like a bunch of highly bespoke curated collections, thanks.

Another bit of SDN catnip, an antiquities mystery!

Anyone else follow the Alison Roman situation? One of the unexpected skills I’ve developed whilst being Extremely Online, is the uncanny ability to spot a cancellation coming. A few weeks ago, I was suddenly finding Alison Roman content everywhere, the algorithim was feeding it to (props to her PR team, without irony)…meaning it would not be long. Lo and behold, she said something super dumb and the internet piled on to rage at her in the time honored tradition of hating women – mixed with the problem of women putting down other women to tell their own stories. Nothing new to see here, kids, and yet Kristin Wong from The Financial Diet wrote something pretty dang smart about the whole Twitter tempest.

I’m still in mourning for a bygone time.

So what I’m hearing is that we could always have set up our fiscal and social policies differently to benefit workers more, but chose not to. Cool cool cool. Tax the rich next.

Bless their hearts.

Well, this is horrifying.

The disaster has become so dire so quickly owing, in part, to the legacy of the 2008 financial crisis. Minimum wage, in real terms, is more than thirty per cent lower than it was fifty years ago. (Since the nineteen-eighties, most of the benefits of America’s growing economy have gone to the wealthy.) Meanwhile, housing costs have more than doubled since 2000. “When people say they live paycheck to paycheck, it’s not that they’re managing their money poorly,” Sharon Parrott, a senior vice-president at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told me. “Instead, their housing costs are taking up a disproportionate share of their incomes.” The result is a slim margin of error: forty per cent of Americans don’t have four hundred dollars cash to spare in an emergency, and would need to rely on credit cards or friends and family to come up with the money.”

Truly.

We all remember Stanley Tucci being daddy and making cocktails for us, yes? Well, daddy came through with food.

Another Friday night, another Inspector General fired.

Gender equity in the workplace requires gender equity in the home. (Side note, I’ve have low key enjoyed the male commentary about being quarantined at home with children and how difficult it is to provide childcare and work at the same time. YEAH, MY DUDES. EXACTLY.)

Lockdown is horrible, but I am loving and eternally grateful for the cultural heritage industries in particular who are finding ways to bring us plays, operas, ballets, museums, and now art lectures in dark times.

I still hate the Space Force. Super Duper.

An ITG Top Shelfie for the ages.

Sigh…

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Midweek Links

You know what’s a first world problem? Your internet and broadband dying the Friday morning of a Bank Holiday weekend when you’re not supposed to go outside. It was fun. Not stressful in the slightest.

But we’re back and we’re connected and we’re overdue with some links so let’s hop to it, kittens! Mama’s missed you.

Let’s learn about monkeys.

Interesting read on the idea and power of “home.”

Oh J. Crew…I’m heartbroken for all my past love, but not surprised.

Will llamas save us all?

Seems natural

Brand matters!

A bit of science reporting to help explain the genetics of COVID-19 and how it can be traced. (I also recommend an old episode of Radio Lab about the evolution of HIV, but which explains how viruses make the jump from animals to humans in high detail but accessible narrative).

A damning/hilarious/chilling indictment.

It’s probably the epitome of tempting the fates, but is this peak 2020?

Cool. Cool cool cool...

The lipstick effect is real, and it is powerful!

For a bunch of personal and professional reasons (expat coupled with work coupled with an international family), I’m following the aviation industry news with a lot of mixed emotions right now.

The UK is such a strange place to be right now. Furlough has been extended until October, but what that means and how we’ll do it, and the implications of how we may possible inadvertently completely change the social safety net forever are still being worked through. Let’s see what happens and hope we don’t die, shrug emoji?

I have watched this 17 times: