Tag: Humor

Weekend Links

It’s the double Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and we are celebrating, by staying inside. The weekend links are dropping early. It’s been a very long week, even though it’s been short and I suspect many of us are in need of a little recharge. Check in from your various socially distant patches, my loves.

This is objectively Not Great. (ETA: this is objectively Worse.)

All of this will pass eventually, but I wonder whether we will lower ourselves back into our previous lives and carry on exactly as before. For all the horror and grief around us now, there is already something melancholic about the thought of abandoning this strange, slow-motion version of life. I’m obviously not singing the praises of illness, fear or loss of freedom, and I look forward hugely to the fortnight-long bacchanal that will doubtless follow the lifting of all these restrictions — drunken orgies in the streets, I should think, and quite right too. But when that moment has also passed, I think we’ll be left with a better sense of what does and doesn’t matter, what is or is not important, what does or doesn’t constitute a good use of time. We’ve lived for a long time like huge spoilt babies. Maybe we’ll grow up.”

NOT NOW, CHERNOBYL.

Is…is this headline a metaphor or…? (PS – National Geographic is doing other sterling work in these troubled times.)

Remember how Theresa May created a “minister for loneliness” job and everyone laughed at her?

Um, this may not be the best time to break a deal with a deity.

Of course these troglodytes think this. Of COURSE they do.

Remember how the last Secretary of the Navy resigned because the President pardoned a war criminal? I do. (ETA: he resigned. Good.)

It’s the corruption, stupid!

Fuck

Let’s end on an aggressively positive note, shall we? We need it.

Something Small

What’s something small and everyday that you find yourself missing right now? I’ve got a weird one: my commute.

We are lucky to live in central London and on a normal day I can get from my front door to the office in about thirty minutes if I catch the right train, perhaps slightly more if I don’t. I tend to give myself 45 so that I can walk at a leisurely pace to the train station and pick up a nice coffee if I feel so inclined. I pass a historic churchyard that’s typically filled with dogs on their first walk of the day, and a famed antiques market every Friday.

My transit time tallies to between an hour and an hour and a half a day. It’s exercise, fresh air, and usually I get an episode or two of a podcast in or a chunk of time on my current audiobook (which I listen to at at least 1.5x normal speed so this can really add up in a work week).

I miss it. Genuinely. This was prime “me time” and I miss the start of my morning that got my blood moving and switched my brain on.

The Real To Do List

I’ve rearranged my furniture, cleaned out and reorganized my closet, done laundry and dishes every single day, made four batches of soup, baked my weight in cookies and bread, mastered the art of sensibly shopping for toilet paper, refrained from petting dogs on our once daily sanctioned walks, painted my nails twice, sweep the floor and wipe down kitchen counters daily, and am exercising multiple times a week.

And still have energy to burn.

Help.

Going slow and steady has never been my strong suit and being in a situation where my role and responsibility is to…stay home and do as little as possible by normal standards…is bizarrely challenging.

This is of course said from a position of ludicrous privilege and I recognize that.

But the dissonance between what most of us want to be in a crisis (active, part of the solution, responsive, the grand gesture types) vs. what is actually required of us (stillness, self awareness, patience, thrift, and compassion) is so telling and interesting to me. I suspect I’m going to be thinking about this for a while to come, and hopefully long after this is over.

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!

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.

 

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)

 

Sunday Check In

Gather round, ducklings, I want to give you all a (digital) hug.

How has your week been? I’ve been working 12-16 hour days again trying to corral and distribute information of all stripes across my stakeholders and workforce as humans and businesses alike struggled to understand the implications of government announcements last week and industry realities this week.

It’s been mental but weirdly satisfying to have so much TO DO, because I know, in the spectrum of possibilities, this thing is likely to last for a lot longer than most people realize. There are follow up waves of illness, potential mutations, economic disparities that mean people and countries will get help at different times, and the ripple effects of those timelines will spread outward for a long time. If some of the possibilities are correct, there is a potential down period coming where the initial frenzy of immediate practical response will come to an end and we all transition to a new, weird “normal” that consists for many in waiting this thing out. And the last thing my brain and I need is not enough to do right now.

As always, books and cooking are helping to keep me sane (Jeff’s drug of choice is video games), and the London weather has been behaving beautifully this week which has also been a delight. I’m acutely aware of my good fortune and hoping you are keeping well too.

Let’s chat about our weeks in the comments. Here, have another hug!

 

Weekend Links: Quarantine Week Two

Hi there, kittens. Here’s you weekly batch of goodness, take some time to rest today if you can. Let’s all meet back here tomorrow for a proper catch up, eh? Love you all, truly.

Respect the bean!

How NOT to be an ass in the time of COVID-19.

Beware wildlife #fakenews.

Surely these people have assistants who will take their phones away!

Here’s a way to “go outside” even if you’re not able to at the moment – responsible social distancing, people!

At a loss of what to cook? Bon Appetit is here to help.

OH LOOK, MORE PROOF THAT WE CAN HAVE AN EFFECT IF WE PUT OUR MINDS TO IT. I’ll be the first to admit that the petri dish is not exactly ideal, but as a forced experiment it is telling.

For me, the idea that my role in this situation largely consists of staying home as much as possible seems on its face to be egregiously fortunate…And more than simply being a luxury, it’s more than that: It’s a duty.”

In case you’re in need of a disco-y bop, Childish Gambino has got you.

SOLIDARITY.

More solidarity. This is going to get worse before it gets better.

As for the rest of you, stop doing brand adjustments and start paying people living wages with sick benefits.

The left gets accused (sometimes rightly) of virtue signalling, but we need to have a real investigation into the defiance signalling of the right. Whether it’s guns, anti-science or any other thing, the fact that we have allowed one of these things (an over abundance of caution or self righteousness to the point of ridiculousness) to be seen as equivalent evil to its counterpart (an overabundance of contempt to the point of public endangerment) is ludicrous. One of these things is annoying. The other is dangerous.

We stan a maximalist queen.

Never have we all been so obsessed with hand sanitizer, and Vanity Fair knows what #content we want right now.

How do we just lose stuff like this, part five million of a continuing series… (ETA: part five million and one)

Ah yes, Leyendecker and his impossibly beautiful men. We heteros aren’t immune.

I would very much like to be a part of this trend.

Meanwhile, in Britain