Tag: Humor

Things to Leave in 2018

“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.” 
― Henry Ward Beecher

A by-no-means-exhaustive list of stuff that you should give yourself permission to simply ditch in the upcoming year:

Subscriptions you aren’t using (we ditched NowTV)

Crippling self doubt and/or loathing. God, the time you’ll get back…

Any sense of shame or dismay about your faves–if you like cheesy pop music, reruns of specific sitcoms instead of that new prestige drama everyone one else is into, certain video games, or anything at all that gives you joy, lean into that feeling and let your fan flag fly!

Social media feeds that do not positively contribute to your life in some way, or that magnify unhealthy or negative tendencies

One toxic relationship–doesn’t matter what kind

One bad habit

Any tendency to speak unkindly about yourself

Self flagellation over that one Big Idea or task that you can’t seem to make progress on. Take a break, give yourself some grace, focus on something else for a bit and see what happens

The broken gadgets and mismatched cords in that one drawer you never open

Clothes that don’t fit

Books you don’t like

Stuff you don’t use

Obviously this is mostly a self reminder, but more seriously, list me some of the things you are going to try to leave in 2018?

Bring Me Books

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
― Charles W. Eliot

This may be a strange thing to say, but I actually fell in love with reading all over again this year–and that’s saying something because I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life and have never fallen out of love with it. We’ve been very happy together since approximately age four. At this point I’ve read well over 50 books so far this year, and that doesn’t count several re-reads of old favorite novels or short stories. And it certainly doesn’t count the sheer amount of newsprint, magazine, and digital media I read on a daily basis.

But this was the year that I really came to understand how much reading helps and grounds me. I think for most of us, besides childhood playacting, books are the first real exercises we get in imagination and projection. These are invaluable tools for processing the world, especially as adults (goodness knows we’re stuck in this phase longer).

In my quest to get healthier this year, I’ve come to the realization that reading helps with all of my brain problems. It stops the anxious skittering of thoughts, it helps me focus on a single (usually enjoyable!) task, and it takes me out of my own head and into another world. It silences my ego. Next to actual therapy, I think it’s one of the best things I am able to do calm myself when worked up over a problem or stuck in a feedback loop of fretting. For me, it’s practically meditation.

When insomnia strikes and sleep is not on the cards, books! When I feel overwhelmed or stress, books! When I just have a spare half hour on the Tube or lying in bed on a weekend, books! I am happier when I make the time and effort to read a lot.

So what did I read this year? I’m working my way through every single book and short story by Agatha Christie. I did a six month dive into the history of Mormon polygamy, which was an important bit of reading for me. I’ve discovered some great new romance authors. I’ve made an effort to read various political and social histories of the US–racial, economic, environmental, and ideological. I’m intentionally mainlining feminist authors in a way that I haven’t since university.

While this is not even close to my most book heavy year, I’m delighted to have discovered an old love in a new way. What books did you read this year, and which were your favorite?

Weekend Links

“When the New York Times scratches its head, get ready for total baldness as you tear out your hair.” 
― Christopher Hitchens

What a week. Mueller and Manafort are playing cat and mouse, his former lawyer has plead guilty to negotiating with Kremlin officials the president is arguing with his own government over the reality of…science? Russian aggression in Ukraine has escalated, the US is lobbing tear gas at migrants at its southern border, Deutche Bank has been raided in relation to longstanding shady money (persons in our government may have the slightest personal interest in this…) and the war in Yemen is reaching new lows of atrocity. I for one am ready for the season of good tidings and comfort, universe. We need ’em.

Here are your links, tell me what you’re getting up to this weekend in the comments. I had an unexpected sick day this week where something nasty knocked me down for a bit so I’m probably going to be taking it slow this weekend. The holiday party season has kicked off and we need to pace ourselves!

NPR does the good work of fact checking: asylum seekers are not illegal and migrants are not invading forces. My two cents: it is possible to want sensible and strong border enforcement and think that teargassing people is morally indefensible. You want better immigration? Spend some of the money you applied to sending troops to the border unnecessarily over Thanksgiving to pay for the judges and clerks to help process asylum applications in the system that already exists to process these requests.

The misogyny is just a fun side bonus

Abortions in the U.S. are down, and for reasons we should all cheer: fewer unplanned pregnancies. Still work to be done in certain demographics and communities, however, and we should not allow policy makers to prevent that work from being done.

I love the Northern Renaissance masters and the intricacy of their work, so a piece on the hidden history and cover ups in Bruegel’s work was like catnip to me.

I cannot stop thinking about this piece in The Atlantic about how “young people” are having less sex and why. It snakes through the impacts of porn, the epidemic of loneliness, and the mess of modern life…but also touches on how rates of abuse may be shrinking leading in turn to less self-destructive behaviors, and how people of all genders may be feeling less pressure to have sex too soon, or in unsafe circumstances, or be overall less informed. As with all things interesting, the reality skates past a lot of preconceived notions of morality or normality and instead leaves you a lot to think about with no immediately obvious conclusions.

Touch down on Mars!

Girl Gang Good News Minute: my girl’s book just got a delight of a review!

The Guardian’s scoop about Mr. Manafort and the accusations of a broken plea deal is….big.

Also from The Atlantic, their cover story about the private corruptions and long term influence of Mr. Manafort’s work, regardless of the outcome of the Mueller investigation, is a long read but a sobering one. “And while Manafort is alleged to have laundered cash for his own benefit, his long history of laundering reputations is what truly sets him apart. He helped persuade the American political elite to look past the atrocities and heists of kleptocrats and goons. He took figures who should have never been permitted influence in Washington and softened their image just enough to guide them past the moral barriers to entry. He weakened the capital’s ethical immune system.”

Oh thank goodness, the NPR annual Book Concierge is here to make the world a better place.

This whole report is sad and unnerving. We humans are so comfortable in the myth of our own superiority and infallibility that I don’t think most people have a grasp of how cosmically minute our patch of rock is and what fragile a thing is life as we know. There is an oddly philosophical line out of the mouth in of a scientist in this piece that has stayed with me, “‘We notice the losses,” says David Wagner, an entomologist at the University of Connecticut. “It’s the diminishment that we don’t see.’”

This Ask Polly column at The Cut had me tearing up at my home desk.

They simply couldn’t handle him.” This is the best, weird story I’ve read all week.

This guy is scum, but so is the system that enabled him. Power and privilege unleashed and unchecked is awful for all of us.

British journalist, podcaster, literary woman and all around babe Pandora Sykes does a better job of explaining her love of vintage than I could… and I’ve been trying for literal years! She also leaves us this uplifting thought for the weekend:

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Five Things I Loved in November

“The house was very quiet, and the fog—we are in November now—pressed against the windows like an excluded ghost.” 
― E.M. Forster, Howards End

What a month, darlings. My life has been consumed with work again, but mostly pleasantly, I’m happy to say. I’ve been incredibly busy, but I am enjoying the work a great deal. But goodness, that means this month has gone by fast! We’re looking down the barrel of a two week holiday to the States to see family and I feel woefully unprepared for it in every way. The first half of December is going to be spent frantically preparing for the second half which will be spent frantically trying to cram in as many visits as possible before frantically trying to get back home in time for the new year. The holidays may be my favorite time of year but they are far from restful!

And with all that said, here are the things that have kept me going this month.

Christmas shopping

I LOVE Christmas shopping. I love finding the perfect presents for people, wrapping them, the process of gifting them. I may be behind on my holiday shopping for friends and family, but I am throwing myself into it with gusto now that Jeff’s birthday and Thanksgiving are behind us.

 

Netflix comedy specials

Netflix has picked up the mantle of Comedy Central, and I for one am loving it. As the news had felt progressively worse and worse over the past two years, I’ve been turning to comedy and lighthearted media more than ever. Yes I may have mainlined Sharp Objects, but I also never miss an episode of The Good Place and evangelize hard for media that injects kindness, thoughtfulness, humor, and levity into the world. This month I enjoyed a bunch of stand up specials, especially ones by Trevor Noah (recommended by Jeff) and was reminded of the vital and delightful role wit and satire should play in our lives. Comedy specials also fit my life right now, when I don’t have the time or attention to really enjoy a series the way I want to, but probably have an hour or two to spare here and there. If you’ve been enjoying, share your recommendations to me in the comments! I’ve been enjoying specials by Trevor Noah, Hasan Minhaj, Donald Glover, Allie Wong…huh. While I in no way intended this to be lacking in white dudes, that is definitely an unexpected bonus.

 

My new precious…

LK Bennett boucle jacket

This was a hell of a second hand find this month! Long on my list of items to buy was a boxy style, boucle tweed jacket–the nearer to Chanel the better. I found one at a beloved designer consignment store and, as I had in-store credit to use, the new with tags jacket that retails over £300 cost me just £28. I felt no shame breaking my no buy for this one at all. It’s a beautiful piece of clothing and if I take good care of it, it should last me for years and years to come.

 

Mac lipstick in Chili

I’ve favorited this item before but I have a goal to use up the bullet before the end of the year and have been wearing it most days in aid of that–with only the rare flirtations with darker, berry tones in honor of the season. This warm, brownish red is absolutely perfect for the fall and someday I will absolutely buy this shade again. However, I first have to get through the other items in my collection. In the meantime, it is only right and proper to salute those who have done good service in the lipstick wars!

 

Lip balm

Tis the season to moisturize everything. I used up two two tubes this month, not start to finish but it’s still a notable consumption pattern for me. One was the Glossier balmdotcom in coconut, which may be the first coconut scented or flavored item I’ve ever not actively hated. While this stuff is basically glorified Vaseline, it gets the job done in the season of wind chap. The other was DHC Lip Cream, which bears the strange honor of being the fastest I’ve ever used up in my life while I’m still not sure I like it. X. recommended it to me and because it came in a two pack, I’m going to continue to use it and see if my opinion on it forms more fully. Meanwhile, the comments are open to your best balm recommendations. Help a girl winterize her face!

Little Pleasures

“I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.” 
― Oscar Wilde

After two weeks of heightened stress at work and needing to be on high alert for days at a time, I’m hoping for a slower and more sustainable few days. We had a delightful weekend celebrating Jeff’s birthday and in the midst of a truly great meal, I got to thinking about “everyday pleasures” that help ground me.

While I can’t say that Michelin star rated restaurants are a reasonable thing to add to your regime of self care (I wish. I don’t remember the last time I’ve felt that as relaxed as I did in the cab ride home–sated doesn’t begin to cover it), there are a lot of small things that produce an immediate hit of dopamine in my system. A short list includes, but is not limited to…

Clean sheets

Fresh contact lenses

Coffee in bed on the weekend

Calls with friends. A weekly necessity.

Buying fresh flowers or greenery for the house

Soup in cold weather

Begin legitimately able to light holiday scented candles

When a book on your waitlist becomes available at the library

Baths

Watching Jane Austen film adaptations while folding laundry

Snagging the front seat on a double decker London bus

Reading a magazine start to finish in one sitting

A good hair day

Date night with my husband, whether at said Michelin star restaurant, or on the couch with Netflix

 

What are the small things that recharge you?

 

Weekend Links

“But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods…for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them.” 
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Windy Poplars

Happy weekend, ducklings, we made it through another week.

This week was bonkers in the world of work as I’ve had to work on some of the most high-profile stuff I’ve ever done that wasn’t consumer facing…I loved it. It was stressful and fast-paced, but I enjoyed the opportunity a lot. Now, however, all I want to do is sleep and stave off the migraine attack that’s threatening to strike after a week of all too much coffee and not enough healthy food.

Jeff’s birthday was this week so we’re celebrating that this weekend, and starting to plan for the holidays which kick off next week with Thanksgiving. I cannot believe how quickly November is rushing by.

Here is a nice batch of links to get you through the weekend, share what you enjoyed in the comments!

Relevant to my…well, not interests so much as poor habits.

Answering a political question I have never thought to ask: what happens to all that campaign merch?!

I really loved this piece about charm–a highly underrated thing in this day and age.

This piece is a couple of weeks old, but is still worth a read. What does it say that some of the leading tech and platform developers work hard to limit their own children’s access to the things they helped to build?

Move fast and break democracy. (I am the millionth person to make this joke, by the way.) Joking aside, I think we’ve proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Facebook may not be an evil organisation, but it’s far too powerful for what it is and it’s a mistake to not consider its lasting implications and impact which have had a global scale. No organization is blameless or perfect, but why does a company this ubiquitous, rich and powerful keep getting to screw up on the scale it does without consequences?

Surprising literally no one at this point.

What a wild ride!

Big headline, great profile.

Alex Trebrek is a figure of my childhood and I loved this profile piece.

An interesting piece at Politico about how Republican gerrymandering works…for a party system that no longer exists in the post-2016 world. For better or worse they have a new party leader who has promised new policies and commitments that no Republican would have espoused a decade ago. 2018 has shown how that may cost them future elected positions.

This week in Mormon News, a podcast recommendation and a bit of background reading from the incomparable C. Jane Kendrick. A link to the episode of This American Life in question can be found in her post. She sums up many of my feminist struggles with a patriarchal faith masterfully, “My problem is with the system…it is the power dynamics that I refuse. I refuse men in power and authority over women. I don’t care where it comes from. I refuse it… I believe you could put in a thousand checks to this system, you could go and sit with your child through every interview, you could teach your daughters to be the most feminist, but this system–designed to cultivate absolute obedience–will always seep in.”

This piece by The Cut feels like a good follow up to that. It’s hard, but necessary to read.

Also relevant, this piece by Monica Lewinsky for Vanity Fair. “If you want to know what power looks like, watch a man safely, even smugly, do interviews for decades, without ever worrying whether he will be asked the questions he doesn’t want to answer.”

PUNK’D.

This week in misogynistic nonsense…

Lady Washington is all, “Who the **** is Carol, George?!” But seriously, this thread is amazing.

Copy/paste will kill us all.

Yeah…this feels correct…

It’s the Lester Holt/James Comey thing all over again. Nothing is new and neither is the lack of robust response.

A sad week for pop culture with two losses: Stan Lee and William Goldman.

Brexit. What a shit show.

Speaks for itself:

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This is the Year I Bought Jewelry

“Big girls need big diamonds.” 
― Elizabeth Taylor

Let’s talk about jewelry, because this is something I thought about this past year. I don’t own a lot. My father gave me a set of pearls for my 16th birthday, and my mother gave me a peridot set for a birthday as well. My wedding jewelry is hands down the nicest jewelry I own; Jeff bought my engagement and wedding rings, and I purchased some earrings myself–which hilariously, I forgot to put in for a good portion of the day. That’s because I’ve never actually been a big jewelry wearer!

Some women are good at accessories, I am not. I often feel very unsure or awkward about wearing them, even though I know objectively that individual items are incredibly stylish or cute. It’s when I try to put them on myself that this becomes an issue! However I’ve become convinced that this is mostly a confidence problem and just because I’m not used to seeing a lot of accessories on myself in the mirror doesn’t mean I look bad in them. Ditto jewelry, whether nice or costume.

So, this was the year I decided to try and figure it out. Similar to my closet, I’ve done several rounds of edits and have ended up donating a lot of my cheap costume jewelry over the past year to really reduce the amount of unused, unloved stuff that was taking up space in my jewelry box, and then I got thoughtful and intentional about the gaps that I saw remaining when it came to my professional or day-to-day style. I’ve bought seven items in total this past year, here’s what they were:

Cheap and cheerful

Over the years I’ve either purchased or received some semi-precious items, but most of what I owned was costume jewelry. This is the year that I cleared out some cheap and fairly crappy items, and sold better quality pieces that I never wore and didn’t suit my style. As a result, what I still own I use more regularly and looks nicer, even if it’s super cheap! I bought a couple of rings for about a £1.50 each, and a silver collar style necklace for about £10 at an antiques market. Antiques shops, markets, and vintage shopping are fantastic ways to get unique items at decent prices. I also bought a pair of chunky gold hoops for a couple of pounds which were very on trend for this past year.

 

Mid-range (for me at least)

One of my 101 in 1001 goals was to buy a right hand ring, which always felt to me like an achievement for a grown woman. I treasure and value every single item I’ve been gifted over the years and the love and affection that they symbolize–I fully intend to gift them in turn to children, friends, or relatives someday in return–but the idea of buying a piece for myself that I had picked out and chosen for myself felt like a good goal to work for. I knew I wanted an antique piece (of course) because it would enable to me to find something that felt unique and not mass produced, and also because there are certain styles I know I love, and because savvy antique shopping can get you good value for money. I’ve been looking for the right ring for a long time and knew I wasn’t going to buy anything that didn’t hit the sweet spot of style and price. I found it at the Bermondsey Antiques Fair and I’m thrilled.

I beatiful bought these vintage pearl earrings which I shouted out in my April favorites and adore.

I also bought a delicate gold chain from a Canada based brand that I love and that does very simple jewelry across price points. It’s so slight that it’s easy to miss, but that’s exactly why I wanted it. It’s hand hammered so the links catch and reflect the light very subtly and helps make even the laziest outfit look a bit more intentional. I also got it in a shorter length so it sits higher around my neck that most chains and therefore allows me to layer it with other pieces–when I can be bothered!

None of these items are what I would call “expensive,” but they took thought and planning that I simply didn’t need for something like a £1.50 ring. In these cases, I used my personal cash budget to pay for them.

 

 

Investment

This was the year I bought a piece of jewelry that cost over £100–but as it was a sort of partial birthday, partial Christmas, and partial career celebration gift, I felt I could justify it. Also, like unto my ring, it was an item that I wanted to buy for myself. I’d long wanted a chunky, gold necklace of some kind and wanted it to feel special or unique in some way. A super vague brief! However, when I discovered this second hand and vintage designer costume jewelry seller, I started stalking her social media and shop extensively until I found the necklace I knew I wanted to get. It’s a costume piece by Chanel from the 1980s and I love it. It’s just a bit too much but I’ve wear it almost every day since buying it and whether it’s a formal work outfit or a t-shirt, it seems to work with almost everything. Another benefit of buying second hand is the ability to work with sellers. In the case of my ring, I haggled and bargained and in the case of my necklace, I agreed a payment plan to spread the costs out over a long period of time. This didn’t make the item less expensive, obviously, but it allowed me to build it into my personal monthly budget plan in a sensible way.

Et voila. That’s how this became the year that I started buying (and wearing!) jewelry properly. I’m absolutely tickled about every single item, none of them were casual purchases (not even the market rings) and all of them feel good. By which I mean, they feel like things that fit my life and style. Some of it’s cheap, some of it’s more expensive. Some of it’s sleek and modern, some of it is a bit over the top. That feels about right.

A lot of what I’ve gotten rid of and pared back over the past two years have been items purchased when I was still figuring out who I was going to be, how that person was going to dress, or even what that person actually liked (as opposed to what she felt like she should like). Similar to my closet, I own fewer pieces overall than I used to, but I actually wear almost every piece of jewelry I do own regularly (some of them every day).

I don’t intend to buy any jewelry for myself in the coming year, I’m happy with what I’ve got…even if I’m not above asking for a nice ten year wedding anniversary present!

Have you ever bought yourself jewelry? How did you select it? What’s the most meaningful piece you own? What about the cheapest? Let’s talk bling in the comments, whether gems or rhinestones!