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Showing posts with the label arts&creation

TBT: Miss Moppet and Her Upwardly Mobile Home

In a pandemic, mobile homes have some advantages over apartments in multi-unit buildings: it's easier to stay safe from disease transmission when you don't need to share entrances and common spaces with people outside of your household, and in many cases you can find more peace and quiet for working from home when you don't share walls with others. There are also disadvantages to mobile homes: more expensive and unreliable heating and cooling as well as challenges with maintaining and replacing trailer-specific appliances and fixtures. In both mobile home parks and apartment buildings, there is a rising risk of exploitation by unscrupulous landlords, ironically causing ostensibly cheap housing to cost renters more in the long run and push dreams of home ownership even farther out of reach. Cheaply rented living spaces are not ideal long-term housing situations for most people, but hey! 2020 is not the year when we can expect everything to be ideal. Transitional housing can

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

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: 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

$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

TBT: Pumpkin Underpants and the Free Range Vegetables

Long ago, back when the trees were smaller and I didn't have a child, I started a rather ambitious vegetable garden without knowing what I was getting into, and it was great fun. I turned out to be a pretty deadbeat gardener because I kept on starting other ambitious projects at the same time, like epic novels and labor-intensive dinners, but I did learn some things--like how much fun it is to ride my bike to the farm market and buy a pumpkin someone else grew when I feel like making Moroccan-spice pumpkin soup, and also that I can get away with being an even lazier gardener by throwing away a decorative gooseneck gourd in my compost pile and looking out the window the next fall to discover that a huge vine full of its descendants has propagated itself all over my apple wood stick stack.   Below is a post I wrote during the Great Recession, when I was exploring the idea of growing as much food as possible on my own suburban homestead. I learned that I don't get enough sun anywh

$Monday: Bog Witch Style on a Budget

Autumn in a pandemic is the perfect time to tap into your inner bog witch with wild hair, cozy clothes, forest rituals, creepy cats, fire, books of spells, and Dark Cottagecore home decor mood boards on Pinterest . You don't have to live in a literal swamp. The word "bog" comes from a Gaelic term for "soft," and it sounds nearly identical to Slavic words for gods or divinity with Proto-Slavic roots that refer to earthly fortune. Bog witches burrow into the true goodness of life nestled beneath all the hustle and polish and show of making a living. They focus on soft wealth and spiritual power. The vibe is slow, earthy, comfy, moody, sneakily seductive, maybe sticky, wise rather than smart, preferring old things to new, charming rather than impressive. It's about harmonizing with the natural environment, blending, melting, enveloping, and sinking into earthy, downward energy. Bog witchery vibes with hygge, friluftsliv , and the indigenous earth wisdom of whe

TBT: Song of the Apartment

Leading up to the Great Recession, from 2006 - 2008, my husband and I lived in a cheap downtown Lansing apartment. While we don't miss the apartment itself, we do have some fond memories of our time there. Yet looking back from where I sit now (a cheap house in an affordable, diverse, beautiful, and comfortable suburb), I realize that living in a low-income apartment can be a much more healthy, safe, and dignified experience in a community that cares more about its poorest residents. By "cares" I'm not talking about feelings so much as actions and physical realities. I mean municipal-level design, planning, and implementation of social services that raise the tide and lift all the boats. In a more humanely run community, people of humble means don't have to choose between laughing or crying at all the drama in their own lives and their neighbors' lives created by untreated mental health and substance abuse struggles and lack of access to basic needs. There is