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Showing posts from October, 2020

TBT: Day to Night Fashion with Office Supplies

Remember nine months or a dozen years ago or whatever, when we used to go to work at the office building and then go to parties afterward? I wrote the post below in a different time, when transitioning quickly from office to party attire was a concern. Now it's 2020, and "day to night fashion" means changing out of the pajamas / athleisure that can pass as real clothes on a Zoom video and slipping into our regular sleeping pajamas. By the way, that neon-dyed jute fiber and seed necklace I'm wearing in the pictures below is the one a man ran across the street to ask me about in last Monday's post about worthwhile travel . This is all painfully nostalgic. Day to Night Fashion with Office Supplies Yesterday, I worked until 6:30, and a friend's birthday party started at 6:00. I wanted to dress up a little for my friend's 30th, but I didn't want to spend a lot of time getting changed at work before rushing over there. So I brought a piece of sari silk that

$Monday: Priceless Travel Preserves

In my teens and 20s, I jumped on a few personal and educational opportunities to travel to places I couldn't afford to just go and visit as a tourist. I wondered what it would be like to book vacations at international resorts like the rich kids at my private high school and college, but now, looking back, I'm grateful that I didn't have the means to treat the world like a safari or a theme park. I couldn't be a tourist, so I went places as a student or an invited guest. Now I appreciate that I was able to access deep, rich, immersive experiences that I had to pay for with pride, innocence, and comfort rather than a lot of money. My travels weren't consistently pleasant or fun or easy, but they were meaningful. Visceral challenges mixed with ecstatic thrills to make me feel more alive and human than I ever had before. They changed me, made me grow, and infused my memories with a store of what Till Lindemann calls "travel preserves." Till likes to go on sur

TBT: We're All Living in Amerika

The first half of 2020 saw a spike in Americans renouncing their citizenship, but my husband and I are still here. In the 2000s, we thought about moving to Europe or New Zealand or some other place where people generally live healthier, happier lives than Americans--with a smaller carbon footprint!--but decided to hunker down in Michigan to raise our child. Although I feel a strong sense of responsibility now for doing what we can for our country of birth (oh no, this is our circus) and a strong faith in the power of grassroots organizing (or maybe I'm still high on maternal hormones), the idea of fleeing this dumpster fire seems more rational than ever. I believe that at this point, the global myth of the United States as #1 is about as vital as the hallucination portrayed in Lindemann's disturbing video for " Platz Eins ." (Content warning: not safe for... anyone, anywhere. Ooohooo, do not click! So danger! So wrong!) 😉 When I was in college, intellectuals used to

$Monday: Take a Holiday from the Holidays

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to skip all the obligatory family gatherings and parties associated with the fall and winter holidays? This is your year to NOT shine! Know that you are not alone in your wish to be left alone through the end of the year--and that this is the chance of a lifetime to try out opting out. The United States is under siege by a mishandled, uncontrolled pandemic, which is a perfect excuse--because it's actually a very good reason--to pull in the welcome mat and lock yourself inside. Don't feel like celebrating? Then don't! Shut all your lights off on Halloween and bury yourself in a sleeping bag shaped like a shark. Eat a bag of candy and watch the scariest movie you can find, to slash through the numb despair of 2020 and feel alive again for the length of a jump scare. I recommend making sure your viewing experience is ad-free, even if you have to resort to dusting off the old DVD player and rifling through the selections that variou

TBT: Backyard Goats

Ah, youth, when all the world is a buffet of dreams and you can just as vividly imagine yourself running your own organic farm as inhabiting a high-rise apartment in a glittering city with rent as high as your Manolos. Last night, from the snug warmth of my fluffy bed nested inside my humble but cozy house within a spectacularly October-festooned Michigan woodsy suburb, I dreamed of stepping onto a plane to Australia, about the longest trip I could possibly take on a flight. I remember the thrill of flying itself and the excitement of visiting a place I have never seen, smelled, or tasted. Then I woke up and remembered that we're in a pandemic and Australia is now pretty much constantly on fire like California, and I am very, very lucky to have a healthy little family in a humble little house in this sleepy Great Lakes suburb during what feels like an apocalyptic time to raise a child. I also have a more realistic understanding of what it takes to raise livestock responsibly. Backy

$Monday: Pandemic Holiday Shopping

It's pandemic holiday shopping season! Yeah, already. I'm not usually an early holiday shopper, but this year I don't trust that supply chains, markets, and shipping systems will stay reliable over the next few months. We have a president who is fighting the United States Postal Service, and Santa Claus has multiple co-morbidities for Covid-19. I am not taking any chances with timing or with my finances. As a mom, my first priority is taking care of my child. Almost all of her gifts this year will be practical things that she needs to get through a winter of isolation at home--like clothes, books, and cozy blankets. My husband and I have agreed to buy a few books as family gifts, and that's about it. All three of us have birthdays that cluster with the holiday season as well--November, December, and January. We will shift the focus from wrapped gifts to experiences such as cookie baking and meal prep, fall color hiking, playing games by the fireplace, tree decorating, s

TBT: Tandoori-Style Cooking With or Without Electricity

Rolling blackouts! Mass unemployment and utility shutoffs! Shuttered restaurants and cafes! Social panic! This is not the 2020 I wanted, but I guess it's the apocalyptic time my husband and I have been preparing for since our mid-20s. I don't mean that we adopted "prepping" culture as seen on TV; rather, we studied climate change and sociology and did our best to brace ourselves for when we couldn't rely upon the comforts and conveniences of a reliable electrical grid. We shared a few experiences in countries where you can't take electricity for granted, and we practiced confronting power outages in the United States as adventures rather than catastrophes. It was all fun and games back in our child-free "extended adolescence." Then we became parents and survived an epic two-week power outage during a cold-record-breaking ice storm that spanned Christmas and the New Year, while caring for a three-year-old. It was tough, but we managed to keep our wood

$Monday: Forget Adulting, Try Hermit Crabbing!

Adulting is for squares. You can live your life according to a generic set of milestones if you want to, but if you don't, contorting yourself into someone else's goals and values isn't a sign of maturity, it's avoidance of doing what real grownups do: take responsibility for personal decisions. Being an actual adult is great once you achieve the inner freedom to own what you want to do with yourself. Instead of "adulting" by some middle-to-upper-class,cis/het, straight, white millennial model, especially if you are not all of those things, try "hermit crabbing"--choosing what fits you at each stage of life rather than trying to cram yourself into the shape of someone else's ideal carapace--and changing it as soon as it stops working for you. It's easy to derive your self-worth from your current circumstances, but it is possible to reverse that flow and, to some extent, manifest a higher net worth by working on your feelings of self worth .

TBT: How the Patriarchy Infantilizes Men; or, Notes on Arthur Miller's Notes on The Bicycle Thief

I finally got around to reading Min Jin Lee's family saga novel Pachinko , and it reminded me just how far patriarchy extends around the world as well as how far back it goes in time. In the scheme of human evolution, the dominance of patriarchy is new and unusual, but for us individual humans with lifespans that max out in about a century or less, patriarchy has come to feel like human nature. That's unfortunate, especially for men. The patriarchy works to transform most people into slobbering, dumb dogs trained to lie submissively at the feet of kings and oligarch masters, and ordinary men suffer the worst of that burden. While women are at least free to build resilience in the face of their oppression, men are tricked into believing that the skills that build true inner strength are for girls, which ironically makes them fragile, infantile, and dependent upon the constant approval and support of an employer. In many White and Asian cultures, in particular, men are taught tha