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Monday Links

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”
― Beryl Markham, West with the Night

Saturday was a long and occasionally vexing day, but we got the whole move done in it. On Sunday Jeff got to go gallivanting off to an NFL game because we’d bought the ticket long before our move date (I still think sneakiness might have been involved) but we got our first batch of shopping done and almost all our things organized any way.

Next stop furniture, and what a doozy that will be. We’re preparing to be permanently poor for the foreseeable future! However after crunching some numbers, budgeting, and planning, we were able to afford plane tickets for Christmas in the States, which means we get to see both sides of the family two years in a row. Adulting, we are getting there.

…but we do not yet have internet so your links are a day late, though not a proverbial dollar short! Let me know what your weekend held in the comments!

Daunting but kind of exhilarating at the same time.
Daunting but kind of exhilarating at the same time.

In case you missed it, this Tiny Desk Concert was pretty great.

An intriguing piece on Secretary Clinton and the common problem of reactions to women looking for a promotion. Regardless of political affiliation, I’ve found her now famous comments about being torn down when seeking a new position as opposed to being relatively well thought of when doing that new position to be insightful.

Books, glorious books!

A query I have often posed to myself. I carry kit enough to invade a small country on a typical day.

Loved this essay from Mike Birbiglia.

This man has lived.

I literally cannot tell the different between satire, news, and fiction sometimes these days. Headlines and situations like this do not help.

It’s October, Halloween is coming, start prepping!


Sleep On It

“There is a certain proper and luxurious way of lying in bed. Confucius, that great artist of life, “never lay straight” in bed, “like a corpse”, but always curled up on one side. I believe one of the greatest pleasures of life is to curl up one’s legs in bed. The posture of the arms is also very important, in order to reach the greatest degree of aesthetic pleasure and mental power. I believe the best posture is not lying flat on the bed, but being upholstered with big soft pillows at an angle of thirty degrees with either one arm or both arms placed behind the back of one’s head.”
― Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living

Serious question: how many online mattress companies are there?

I am a podcast and public radio listening millennial who wants to support small businesses, and buys into the idea of buying more or less straight from a manufacturer or designer. This sort of model is right up my stereotypical street. However, the sheer amount of options being lobbed at me as we look at trying to fit out a new place are ludicrous. Caspar, Eve, Simba, Leesa, Yogabed, Tuft & Needle, Loon & Leaf, Keetsa, and goodness knows what others I’m missing–I’m sure the comment section will educate me.

More curiously, what was the impetus for every start up and their ping-pong-court-and-smoothie-bar-holding campus to decide that mattresses was the next great frontier to be conquered? What caused this convergence? Have we reached peak, direct to consumer mattress yet? And did they all use the same two branding agencies or something? So many mysteries…

Weekend Links

“A lady, without a family, was the very best preserver of furniture in the world.”
― Jane Austen, Persuasion

Happy weekend, ducklings! At work this week we got our third big proposal out, quite possibly the biggest one to date, and on the home front we trying to shop for ideas for real, grown up furniture for the first time in our lives. We’re 30. Yikes. Lessons learned thus far can broadly be summarized as follows: we have excellent taste, and we have no money.

Here are your links, rapid fire this weekend, and let me know what you’re getting up to in the comments.

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Tumblr find of the week.

Caitlin (the one in China, not the one in New York) made her own 101 in 1001 list, go check it out here.

Spirit animal.

A very important quiz.

Digging into the history of maroon communities in the Dismal Swamp.

Gender non-confirming kitty, courtesy of Miss Potter!

Strong piece about a complicated topic.

Stacy London speaks wisdom.

Home Office

“I come to the office each morning and stay for long hours doing what has to be done to the best of my ability. And when you’ve done the best you can, you can’t do any better.”
― Harry S. Truman

Today is a bit of a frantic day at work for me kittens, following two incredibly late nights in a row – the Oscars and a much needed girls night out while Jeff is in Peterborough. But my pace, chipper as it’s making me, got me thinking about workspaces, so let’s talk them today. Step into my office.

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It’s not fancy, but it’s a world of difference from where we started, which is in turn a world of difference from the floor, which is in turn a world of difference from a kitchen table in a parent’s house. That cork board is probably the best and most important small amount purchase I’ve made in months, and it’s a mass of lists. I keep a running one of the jobs and work I’ve applied for with updates for successes and failures, short editorial calendars for certain projects, individual pitches with the current state of the submission and follow up process, notes to self about publications and sites I’ve heard about and want to investigate, even grocery lists.

I’ve been accused of too many notebooks (blasphemy! There’s no such thing), but aside from my major planner I’ve got one for project notes, one specifically for professional pitch ideas and interview notes, and one for my creative stuff. Plus scratch paper for the lists I’m so fond of.

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There’s fun stuff too. I don’t hoard things typically, but since we’ve arrived I’ve saved tickets from shows and events that have blown me away, Coriolanus and The Drowned Man have places of honor. Aside from pictures of friends and family (all but one removed to protect their privacy, but please do admire one of my two handsome brothers!), I keep photos from magazines that I like to give me something pretty to look at. Clearly my true inner style is ball gowns paired with sweatshirts – can’t say I’m surprised. Comfortable and inappropriately dramatic.

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That other picture is of a Russian socialite and couture maven/designer named Ulyana Sergeenko – frequently photographed bedecked in turbans, bright lips, and emeralds, so of course she plays the role of a muse!  I keep most of my lipsticks and glosses in a used candle holder; easy to hand since I wear it daily, even sitting at my desk. My colored pens and markers, essential for keeping track of different clients and projects I store in Victorian marmalade jar – reclaimed from a period rubbish dump, cleaned up and sold by an enthusiast at Portobello Road, who really deserves his own post because he was a delight!

The other essentials: iPod for podcast listening, business cards (which I always keep on hand, just in case), and takeaway menus to favorite local places. For the nights when making dinner straight up isn’t happening.

Not pictured: the pile of mail, random receipts, whatever lotion or hand cream I’m currently using to keep my skin from coming off in chunks, and a plastic tray that sits on the windowsill and usually contains a dumping of breath mints, thumb tacks, my address book, and keys. Do not believe for one second that things are always this tidy!

And that’s where I work most days! Work from home types, freelancers, and other writer friends, weigh in. What does your typical workspace look like? I’m nosy and want to know.

The Winter of My Skin’s Discontent

“She couldn’t get any farther away inside from her skin. She couldn’t get away.”
― Cynthia Voigt, When She Hollers

Confession. All my adult life I’ve read the articles in women’s magazines about the perils of winter on a girl’s skin, and I always assumed I got genetically lucky. My skin was largely okay. Even living in a desert state with dry air for years, the only thing that really affected my complexion was hormonal cycles and bad eating (still occasionally guilty of the latter). Then I moved to London. After an initial breakout, my skin calmed down again (many thanks for your advice)…until winter hit.

Team, consider me a convert. The magazines were not, in fact, just lying to promote sales of various products. The desert air has nothing on your old school heater in a city flat. I’ve never experienced the flaking, cracking, and shedding of my epidermis that I have in the last couple of months. Also, as a child I had eczema that mostly cleared up, except for my scalp where it has more or less stayed for the past two decades. Annoying but manageable. Not anymore! My eczema is back with a vengeance and it has become quite painful in areas.

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I’m giving the mirror some serious side-eye here.

Sorry to the more prurient minded among you, that’s not a hickey. It’s but one of the visible patches of winter eczema currently dotting my neck, chest, and face. This one is mostly healed, after a week long battle with medication. I’ve got streaks of it just below the neckline of my supremely fashion forward alma mater hoodie, and a patch on my right temple which took a big enough hit that I’m pretty sure its going to leave some scarring. Drat.

The current arsenal.
The current arsenal, posed in front of the offending heater.

Nivea is currently managing things below the collar bone while my argan balms and are keeping things like knees, elbows, and feet intact. I’ve got my eczema specialist for spot treatment, my moisturizer with SPF for day and my eye cream and Kiehls treatment for night. Lips require their own regimen. Neosporin gets slathered on any point where the skin is punctured, fractured, or generally abused. One heavy duty cream for the nights where they won’t cut it. For the first time in my life I’ve needed the occasional slathering of hand cream after a day out in the cold!

All of this is mostly helping, but I’m wondering if it’s a bit much and if there’s an easier way to keep my skin from falling off. So I’m putting another call out for winter skin and facial care recommendations. RSVP. Before I disintegrate.

Apart From Monday Evening, I Disavow This Week

“We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.”
— Douglas Adams

Holy mother of pain, kittens!

Yesterday’s post was drafted in advance of a Series of Events, when all was well and the washing machine and I were having a delightful domestic fling. Quite suddenly and without warning all went spectacularly upside down. Like all great tragic love affairs, ours did a lot of damage on the way out.

But first let me go back!

Over the weekend it became clear that our washing machine would need to be replaced. It had had a few funny spells where its various lights would flash or the whole thing would turn on (or alternatively refuse to turn off) without instruction, but these had all be cured with a period of rest from duties. But as of Sunday we knew it was no good. It had given up the ghost and refused to work any more. We had to walk the whole thing out of its niche to inspect it, avoiding scraping up the linoleum to the best of our ability – revealing of course a degree of filth that had to be cleaned up. Several reviews online and investigations into the make and model confirmed that the behavior it was displaying meant it had gone the way of all the earth. With our landlady’s permission we ordered a new one, to be delivered on Tuesday.

Monday morning started out just fine. Jeff went to the office and I was just getting up and about when suddenly my phone rang and it was Jeff, sounding irritated and out of breath.
“Apparently I’m supposed to be in Gloucester right now and they didn’t tell me. Can you start packing?”

That’s a bit of a way to kick off the week. Being of profound packing experience I began rounding up necessities and waited for him to get home to tell me the story. As it turns out, multiple of his colleagues had been assigned to various spots around the country over the weekend without being told or told incorrectly, so come that morning a number of people were not where they were officially supposed to be. By the time he got home he had been told to sit tight and await further instructions – which of course meant that after an hour or so he was asked to come straight back into the London office to work there for the day.

I remained suspicious and refused to unpack. A good thing it turned out, since that night he was assigned to go to Peterborough for three days. He headed out early Tuesday morning.

That same morning, our brand shiny new machine arrived and was installed by two very helpful workmen, and it appeared that all was well in test runs. The first time I attempted to use it, however, the sink (through which it connects) filled straight up…and refused to drain. Which is to say, of course, it overfilled. Emphatically. Luckily I was in the kitchen for the rinse cycle because water began pouring down the sides of the cupboard and onto the floor – I was afraid that a hose hadn’t been connected properly at first, though latter evidence revealed this was not the case.

Necessity being the mother of invention, I grabbed a couple of pots and began frantically ferrying  the sink water to the bathroom (slipping and sliding all over the now wet and slick floor) until the cycle finished which luckily put a stop to the flood. After which I spent a couple hours mopping up the mess (more filth discovered) before marching grimly to the nearest bodega for drain cleaner, and the bakery for a fortifying pain au chocolat.

Both the trip-to-Gloucester-that-wasn’t and this adventure have put me pretty badly behind this week. I’m doubly grateful for a nice night out on Monday because everything since then has been a bit dire. The manageable side of dire, but dire nonetheless.

On the other hand, we have successfully proved that in extremis, I’m capable of feats of strength that are pretty impressive. Such as dragging a machine across the kitchen floor in mere seconds sans injury.

Behold my panic induced prowess.
Behold my panic induced prowess.

Pray the drain un-clogger works permanently, ducklings, the next step is professional help. Which I may or may not currently stand in need of myself.