Tag: Humor

Weekend Links: Over and Over Again

“It’s very dramatic when two people come together to work something out. It’s easy to take a gun and annihilate your opposition, but what is really exciting to me is to see people with differing views come together and finally respect each other.” 
― Fred Rogers

Another successful Infrastructure and Immigration Week for the White House and its policy agenda, gone off without a hitch.

Pardon the dark humor, darlings, it’s just that sometimes it feels as though Everything Is Terrible. Another awful school shooting captured in real time by the children who experienced it, another week of sex and abuse scandals that rocked everything from charities to the White House, another week of an intransigent Congress, another batch of news about what is now being termed “informational warfare” against my country.

I’ve tried to keep some good news and fun links mixed in here, but it’s been a rough week, kittens, and we need to sit with that. Our society suffers from extensive abuse and systems that enable abusers. We have powerful veins of violence running through our core and the people who most represent those veins have been strategically armed. We have money speaking louder than people. We have big problems. And then we need to get off our asses and do something to make things better even if it’s small. This weekend, I’m donating some clothing and home items to a charity I have researched and support, donating to a cause I care about, spending some time keeping my body and our finances healthy, and going to see Black Panther. How about you guys? What are you doing in your own corner to take care of yourself or your patch?

There was another mass shooting this week and at time of writing, 17 victims have died including children. Three out of ten of the most deadly mass school shootings in US history have happened in the last 6 months. This is grotesque, it’s unacceptable, it’s horrific. It’s awful how little I’m convinced that this culture of violence with easy access to military grade killing machines is going to change as a result. The only bright spot has been the ability of the children involved to avoid being used as totems by interested parties and staying in control of their own voices, stories, POV, and narratives. The coming generation gives me much hope.

How much of what you read do you remember?

NYFW is over (London is next!) and Into The Gloss runs down their picks for the best beauty looks. If Tom Ford and co. could kindly run me one of those leather headbands, that would be great.

Swipe left.

Another excellent episode of Drunk History for your delectation.

A perennial topic of interest to me: changing trends in clothing. Front production to sales to consumer habits to start ups, Americans are buying less and that has some wider implications across the industry.

Loved this Black Panther review at NPR, with particular emphasis on how certain heroes are created or achieve resonance due to certain cultural moments.

This is…a hobby…?

It was yet another busy Friday afternoon when the DOJ released an indictment of Russian individuals travelling to the US, setting up VPNs to mask the origin of their content, and then spread derogatory content about some politicians (guess which ones) while promoting others (GUESS WHICH ONES). This dates as far back as 2014 according to what I’ve read, item 6 on page 4 states that some of these operatives communicated with “unwitting” members of the Trump campaign. Of no surprise to me was the information that after the election, the activities turned towards inflaming anti-Trump sentiment in some cases. They had one aim. It’s worked. They tried to divide along religious, racial, and regional lines, and it worked. They did their homework, investigated the weak points of our civil society, and went after those points with precision. This thread sums up my feelings (also, I’m more convinced than ever that Facebook is bad for us). Where we go from here, who we hold responsible, and how we choose to come together across divides is up to us.

Oh Mitt,you suffer from terrible timing. Friday in Trump’s America is not the time to be doing this sort of thing, you will always be upstaged.

I haven’t been following the Olympics this year, but figure skating will save us all.

Here. Have a vid of a dog eating pizza, just because.

Weekend Links

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”
– Mark Twain

This week President Trump asked for a military parade and had an extraordinarily bad hair day. The Winter Olympics kicked off in South Korea, which is a nice thing. Elon Musk shot a car into space which is both an achievement and kind of Disney-villain-esque. A corgi and a pony gave the internet a small measure of hope. It was a wild ride.

Here are your links, darlings, have a good weekend and try to stay off the news

Read this: How Not to Die In America, over at Splinter.

I failed to link to this last week, but the Black Panther film premier red carpet was a smorgasbord of beauty and color. Go forth and partake.

This honest piece by noted stylist Stacy London, about things not going according to plan and the personal and financial costs of such slings and arrows, hit me right in the feels this week. All of these topics have been on my mind lately, and I’m grateful when noted and notable women write about their own experiences so personally. h/t to my bestie X.

Uma Thurman is ready to talk. Buckle up.

This profile of White House Communications Director and longtime Trump loyalist Hope Hicks is a fascinating read. And I mean that sincerely, in a non-catty kind of way.

There’s a new Drunk History episode for your delectation, darlings, and it’s a grand one! Takin’ notes, takin’ notes…

And a timely follow up news piece.

THIS IS BAD IN ANY COUNTRY.

I want nothing more than to stumble across something like this an an antiques shop.

As soon as humans figure out how to do this

Bad news for the racists.

A guy with an alleged history of domestic violence which should have precluded him from work requiring a security clearance (it didn’t) was fired from the White House this week.  He follows the guy who had the arrest warrant out for him in Hungary, and the foreign agent who advised on national security, plus a few reality TV stars. Starting to think we aren’t good at hiring the “best people,” as the president once called them… (ETA: a late Friday evening addition.) (ETA: an early Saturday morning addition.)

This piece at Bloomberg is a long but interesting read. “He doesn’t understand the power of the anger he’s tapped, almost by accident. And he likely never will. There’s a throwaway line in Michael Wolff’s book: Trump never learned how to read a corporate balance sheet. His approach to his own ignorance is not to correct it but to compensate for it.”

Oh my god

THAT Quincy Jones interview, in case you missed it somehow.

The Joy of Dupes

“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.” 
― Coco Chanel

I admit it, I can be a sucker for luxury. I work in marketing, I should know better! But because I do work in marketing, I also know the power that branding has and how a well maintained and reputation-earning brand can add zeros on to its asking prices and still be considered worth every penny. In other cases, however, no matter how attractive the brand, the underlying product can be lackluster enough that zeros should probably be knocked off.

Last year I did a month long money project in January where I tracked my spending publicly, and once a year for the past couple of years I’ve gone on a “no buy” where I complete restrict all personal shopping for several months. I’m in the midst of another one now. There are several posts on this site going back years where I catalog and document my attempts to be a smarter, more ethical, and less reactive consumer and it’s an ongoing process. Lately I’ve been on something of a mission to find cheaper versions of items I love over because while some things may absolutely be worth the pricetag, a lot (if not most of the time) you can find the same ingredients, experience, or emotional charge from something at a much better price point.

It’s not wrong to want and use nice things, or even to save up for a luxurious purchase if you can honestly afford it, but I do think it’s silly to do so when you can get an almost identical version of the product for a fraction of the cost. At what point does the idea of a certain product stop being worth the price tag?

Here’s a by-no-means-comprehensive list of some “luxuries” I’ve replaced with cheaper options recently.

Dyptique Feu de Bois (£45) / Muji Log Fire (£4.95)
The numbers here speak for themselves. Let’s step into the confessional booth for a moment: as a young adult I was an easy sucker for Dyptique candles, they are such wonderful smelling things that look and feel like something a grown up would burn in their home. When we were living in a shoebox with peeling linoleum floors, I bought these because they made me feel better about the cramped and ugly space we lived in. They are textbook aspirational homegoods and I fell for the emotional bait hook, line, and sinker. I repent. I have also found a practically identical scent for literally a tenth of the price and have repurposed the fancy glass remains of past candles as makeup brush holders.

Bite Beauty Pepper ($26) / Maybelline Color Sensational Velvet Beige (£6.99)
Last month I achieved that rare thing, finishing a whole bullet of lipstick. Thanks to discovering the Makeup Rehab Subreddit and several self challenges to finish products I have on my shelves instead of falling prey to the siren song of the latest launch, I have found ways to game-ify using products instead of acquiring them. A useful inversion of capitalism and marketing! But staying on point, when it came time to consider replacing it (and I did want to, as it was my only nude colored lipstick, if you can believe that) I considered repurchasing the same lipstick, before deciding to see if I could replicate it at the drugstore. No surprises, I found a near perfect match at that great British institution Boots. Even better, though, because I am a careful hoarder of membership points, I had accumulated more than enough to cover the cost of a drugstore lipstick. So not only did I find an equivalent item that costs a quarter of the price, in this case I got it for free.

Pestle & Mortar Hyaluronic Acid (£36) / The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid (£6)
Honestly The Ordinary probably has a cheaper version of any skincare ingredient you’d like to try. When hype about the Drunk Elephant Vitamin C serum reached frenzy, it was wonderfully easy to avoid it seeing as I had a Vitamin C product sitting pretty on my shelves that cost less than £6–though full disclosure, the Drunk Elephant still temps me. I plan on trying a £5.50 Lactic Acid solution of theirs next to see if it can replace my Sunday Riley Good Genes serum (which costs a whopping £85 and which I have not repurchased in months for obvious reasons, much as I love the formula).

 

Monday Musings: the Commoditization of Self Care

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” 
― Audre Lorde

This is a bit of a free flow post, ducklings, but it was a topic I kept ruminating on over the weekend and wanted to organize my thoughts around. Last week I was wondering if social media makes me/us unhappy, this week I got annoyed at society for ruining something I think is a small but active force for good in the world. I’m a big believer in the idea of self-care (no matter how ubiquitous a term it’s become lately); I was glad when the language around it became mainstream, and I’m bummed now to see it start to be co-opted.

Self care could be loosely defined as any personal act or decision that is deliberately made to ensure one’s mental or physical health maintained, and one’s emotional state is kept balanced and harmonious. It’s a deeply personal thing because everyone has a different set of preferences and actions that make them feel a bit healthier and safer.

I am firmly supportive of self-soothing and I’m not going to be too judgey about what that looks like to other people, as long as no harm is being done. One person’s “me time” may be yoga, someone else’s might be violent video games, and someone else will find underwater basket weaving to be their personal happy place. Knock yourselves out. I personally like to ensure I have regular night time baths (which help me sleep better), I try and limit my interactions with some people/situations which cause me to get anxiety attacks, and I make an effort to carve out some “down time” during the weekends since I often work long hours during the work week. A hot bath, a trashy novel, quiet time by myself, date nights or weekend brunches with my husband…all these things keep my emotional batteries charged.

But like many other people, I’ve noticed how the language of self-care has gone from being almost a radical notion for people and mostly women (often primed and socialized since childhood to be nurturers, givers, and carers of other people) to insist on making their own wellbeing a priority…to a marketing term. This irks me. The amount of emails, newsletters, and targeted ads I’ve seen proclaiming that I, the buyer, “deserve this,” or should “treat myself,” or have “earned this [insert completely unnecessary and expensive item here]” are getting out of control.

Retail therapy is a real thing for many people and I don’t enjoy looking back on the past decade realizing how much money I’ve spent when stressed or unhappy. I’m a very happy and pretty healthy makeup and beauty lover now, but the truth is I first got into it and accumulated most of my beauty arsenal in a period of my life that was hugely stressful and unhappy for me. I was killing myself as a freelancer who almost never left the tiny, crappy apartment we lived in at the time, earning money in one currency while having to pay bills in another, and going through the final pangs of a protracted breakup with the religious tradition and community I had been born and raised in. Those were not my favorite months and years. Makeup and beauty, however, were pretty things that made me feel better.

In my early 20’s, as I’ve written before, I spent too much money on clothing I didn’t actually need or probably want because I liked the idea of what those items represented (a competent, successful woman) rather than what I felt like most days (a newly minted adult with crippling imposter syndrome and a vague but increasing that a lot of the other adults didn’t have much of a clue what they were doing either and oh-god-now-what?!). It’s only been as I’ve gotten older and more settled into my own body and brain that I’ve really become aware of how hard the notion that “Buying/having stuff will fix your problem” is sold to people.

These days I’m particularly annoyed that a reasonably good concept like self-care has been commoditized. It should be good for people to identify things that make them more stable and healthy as a person and to make time for those actions or items. But if your self-soothing seems to require significant amounts of spending, then someone is profiting from your stress, unhappiness, anxiety, or discontent. This bugs me. First of all by equating health/happiness to new lipstick, I think society is programming people with deplorable messages about unhealthy consumerism that equates stuff with wellbeing. This is financially dangerous. And on the flip side, genuine self care can be trivialized as its language is co-opted to sell crap, while people who openly engage and talk about practices that make their lives marginally better can be easily dismissed or mocked.

I don’t have a solution to this problem except to identify it and block it wherever possible, and to continue to say that I think self care in its original form is still important.  I wish I had discovered the notion that committed care for my brain, emotions, and body is not a selfish act much earlier in life; I think I might have avoided some major bad habits if I had. But I suspect that if we don’t watch out, we’re going to have to do the cultural work of inventing a whole new term for and redefining self care all over again someday because our current language will be no good to anyone anymore. That would be a loss. I think it’s taken a lot of social development, and especially for women, to create the terminology for and gain the social clout to claim the notion that we have a right to our own wellbeing. I’m not eager to surrender that to advertisers.

Weekend Links

I have never in my life found myself in a situation where I’ve stopped work and said, ‘Thank God it’s Friday.’ But weekends are special even if your schedule is all over the place. Something tells you the weekend has arrived and you can indulge yourself a bit.
– Helen Mirren

This has been a roller coaster of a week for me, kittens, both newswise and personally and I am very glad the weekend is here. Apart from laundry and cleaning the house, I intend to do as little as I can get away with. I need to pick up and mail off some presents to people, send out some cards, and write some blog posts, but other than that all bets are off. I’ll be avoiding the news this weekend because as fake Lester Holt put it…

POTUS gave a SOTU address (remember that? It seems a weirdly long time ago…) and there have been endless think pieces so I won’t bore you with those. But I will say that there was a lot of rhetoric with little policy and no plans, with a nice undercurrent of the kind of talk that historically precursor-ed foreign conflicts. In case you were wondering how I felt about it.

There was an awful train accident with a number of congresspeople as passengers. Thankfully there was only one fatality, but tragically it was the driver of a vehicle that the train struck, which is awful. Horribly, the conspiracy theories about this accident started almost right away, and I’m not going to link to a single one. We live in a scary time. Meanwhile, here’s the GoFundMe campaign to support the family of the victim.

The incredible reinvention of the Religious Right, even just in my own lifetime, is constantly remarkable to me. In a bad way.

Trigger warning, this is a story about revenge porn. And it’s important to read because, given changes in media and technology, this possibility even more insidious than usual.

Meanwhile, most of the kids remain solidly alright.

Hmmmmmm….

Racked did a great piece on the history of black-owned beauty brands that is well worth a read. The market is making great strides in correcting the absolutely ridiculous limitations of shade ranges and products for women of color (and its propensity to treat “ethnic” products separately from “normal” products), but there is still work to be done. Insert reminder here that the best way to support the brands making change happen is with your money.

Stop accusing women in Mr. Trump’s orbit of sleeping their way to power. There is no evidence of this and even if there were, it’s a gross tactic to delegitimize their power. There is plenty to consider or critique without a single comment on their sexual choices.

We might need bodice ripper sex ed.

This is why.

It’s all about the statement outerwear this year, Paris says so!

I wanted to tell my story because I’m afraid people are forgetting. We can never forget what happened. We can never let it happen again.”

This guy was afraid of being shunned so murder was his out?!

This deep dive report by the New York Times into the world of fake or “bot” social media accounts, including how they can be bought and sold as “followers, is required reading to understand the bizarre media landscape we find ourselves in. From Fake News, to social media influencers, to online popularity wars, how much of this landscape is false or fraudulent? Turns out, a lot of it. What does this mean, and how should this knowledge affect us? I’m clearly not the only one who has questions about the worth of social media on the brain.

Meanwhile, here in Britain

So, the FBI is saying that the infamous memo is dangerously inaccurate. Great.

This beauty article is getting some hype this week, but I find its premise flawed. Beauty rituals have medical and psychological value. By all means, tell people to be smart about the chemicals they put on their skin. But don’t tell them that there is no value in taking care of your skin or that they are stupid for doing so or pretend that humans haven’t been slathering themselves in treatments for thousands of years to right a variety of wrongs and health situations.

Here’s a much better piece on why content on or about skincare is so prevalent right now.

San Francisco is trying something different.

While the president’s language around immigration seems vested in violence, here’s a casual reminder that the greatest amount of exteremist crimes in the US last year was by white supremacists.

A touching archaeological find from our extinct cousins/ancestors.

Hmmm, is Glossier making some mistakes with its latest product offering? The reigning UK Queen of Skincare weighs in.

And finally, the #Releasethememo frenzy hit its peak with the release of the memo in question, over the objections of the FBI. NPR has annotated and fact checked the document. My opinion is that the memo actually undermines the White House’s narrative that the investigation into whether or not the administration has had improper dealings with Russia started with the infamous Steele dossier. But if the aim is simply to throw the intelligence community into chaos and undermine public trust…mission bloody accomplished, and all of us are endangered for it.

Five Things I Loved in January

You’d be so lean, that blasts of January
Would blow you through and through.
-William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale

I swear that time is speeding up, but we’re already at the end of the first month of 2018 so it’s time to check in with a few of the things that made me happy this month. Don’t forget to share your favorite things this month in the comments!

Shearling Slippers
My journey towards being a style granny before 40 continues apace! One of downsides of our apartment is that the window’s aren’t double glazed, meaning that we have subpar insulation. We make the frugal call to keep our apartment cooler in the winter than most other people as well, and choose to layer up clothing and use throws and blankets to keep warm when lounging rather than turning up the temperature. Meaning that my feet freeze! Also, after a day in work heels, I’ve found hardwood floors and cold tiles are not easy on my feet. Like I said, granny. My remedy has been a pair of thick shearling slippers that I pop into almost the moment I walk in the door. There are all kinds of designer or branded choices out there…skip them all. Find something sensibly priced on Amazon.co.uk the way I did and remember that the only person who’s going to see you in them are the partners or flatmates who are contractually obliged to like or tolerate you!

The Good Place
After consuming a lot of heavy media over the past few months (and that’s apart from the news!) I was desperate for something bright, funny, and light on the brain. The Good Place is a great series about four people not quite getting what they expected out of the afterlife. To say anything more than that gives way too much away, but if you’re looking for charming entertainment, I can highly recommend this comedy.

We Were Eight Years in Power, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Annnnndddd on the other end of the spectrum… I’m finishing up this audiobook as I put this post together and it’s been a sucker punch. Coates documents the Obama years from the perspective of a black man witnessing the culmination (in his perspective) of a history of racial animus in thwarted hope and a swift swing towards backlash. Presented as a series of essays some of which were first published in The Atlantic and some unique to the book, he looks at the history of black America, his own rise as a prominent writer, and the conflicts between patriotism and contempt communities feel for their country based on their experiences. This is not a book that will make you feel comfortable, especially if you are a white American of any political persuasion at all, which is probably why a lot of people should read it.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Eyshadow Palette
I’ve owned this palette for months, but have been using it almost exclusively this January and have actually used up an entire shadow recently, something I’ve not managed to accomplish in a while. This is a beautiful palette if you like warm toned shades and a lot of the individual colors may look shocking in the pan, but can be very wearable day-to-day if you use them right. The beauty market is currently oversaturated with warm toned palettes and shades, but this baby was the one that really got the trend started, and for a good reason. I’ve got a goal to use up makeup this year rather than buy more, and it’s nice to start out with an empty pan!

The Indicator, by NPR
From the same people who created Planet Money (the podcast that really helped explain to a young millennial what exactly had happened to the economy around me), this is a short, daily podcast that takes one item from the day’s news–usually a number and somewhat obscure–and dives into why that fact or figure is important or significant. It’s a nice little burst of facts!

A Month of Healthy Eating

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” 
― Hippocrates

Bad news for me, team: I lost nearly 15 lbs in a single month doing nothing but changing the way I eat. I didn’t step foot in a gym, didn’t exercise at home due to an erratic work schedule, and made no other significant changes to my day-to-day life.

Why bad news you ask? Because it’s become abundantly clearly in record time that while I knew my diet was affecting me, I didn’t at all realize the extent. To see this much change this quickly has been startling.

Now, let’s be clear, I also changed up my birth control in this time frame (see here for the recap) which, based only on anecdote and personal experience, I thought may also have affected my weight (remember, the science is still out on this point). There’s no way to tell if this may  have had an effect, but I fully intend to talk to my doctor about it at a follow up appointment this month. There’s a working theory that I may be negatively affected by some unknown food item group (which is the most stupid, millennial thing to type) but that’s still up for medical confirmation. More info on that if and when my delightful GP helps me figure it out.

So, what did I do exactly? I’m sorry to say that there is nothing here you haven’t heard or read about before and there are no tricks, I simply cut out all the foods that make life worth living: no dairy, no sugar, no alcohol, no grain based anything. I massively upped my intake of fresh fruit and veg and have eaten more eggs this month than probably at any other point in my life. Seriously, if I never eat a hardboiled egg again, it will be too soon. I virtually eliminated all snacking, even healthy ones, and instead stuffed myself full at almost every meal with salad. I don’t care who tells you they love kale, there’s a 50/50% chance they are lying to you and dying a bit on the inside.

It worked. I’m feeling great. Damn it.

I didn’t tie this to a New Year’s resolution, I didn’t talk too much about about it or make a big deal out of it online or to friends, and I certainly didn’t have any weight expectations going into this. Like my birth control choice, I decided at the end of last year to try and proactively sort out some behind the scenes health and body issues that have bugged me for a long time and evaluating food groups is part of that overall project. The weight loss is just a welcome, if startling, side effect.

I mean…yikes.

I was looking forward to reintroducing a lot of food back into my diet…but honestly I think my consumption of these things will have to stay reduced if I want to continue trying to be more healthy. Things like dairy and alcohol are not food groups I ingested a lot of anyway before this started, but bread on the other hand… And while I don’t and never have eaten processed foods and have made good headway in reducing my sugar intake over recent years, clearly I could have been doing more to eliminate something which I suspect is one of the main culprits to my recent health roller coaster.

Final disclosures: I remain an unrepentant omnivore and moderate, I don’t think foods should be eliminated from anyone’s diet without medical advice and I’m certainly not urging anyone to do so. That being said if you do feel physically crappy for extended periods of time, notice changes to your body or brain rhythms, or sense that something is “not quite right” internally, talk to someone about it. Seek answers and options. I’m trying to be a less passive passenger in my own body than I have been for several years, and to have this many positive outcomes so quickly has been extraordinary.

To the comments! Have you made any big health adjustments in your life? What were your motivations, and what were the outcomes, both good and bad?