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TBT: How It Started vs. How It's Going... 2010s Resolutions

In hindsight, the year 2020 feels like a weird false start to me. The year that marks the beginning of a new decade isn't supposed to be so... end-timey. I've settled down into that long wait for this decade to truly begin, I hope after the pandemic fades out over the course of 2021. Forget about dramatic resolutions, I just want to make tentative plans again! One of the gifts of 2020 has been a gigantic time-out, a chance to reset priorities, and a lot of time to reflect upon the way things used to be in the Before Times and how much of that we'd like to leave in the Before Times. I like the idea of picking out only the best lessons and traveling light into a very new New Year--bringing forward more wisdom and skill, less stuff and baggage. Today's post is a look back at my weighty 2010 New Year's Resolutions (below, in text that is not italicized) with notes on how those went and how those lessons learned have affected my visions for the 2020s (in italics).   It&#

TBT: Absurdist Theme Parties

2020 has been a disruptive year that has forced us to think of new and creative ways to have fun and celebrate holidays and milestones with others. I am stoked about the distribution of coronavirus vaccines that will, I hope, set us free to mingle in real shared spaces again, but I've also enjoyed witnessing the shakeup of assumptions about how we have to share traditions and joys and sorrows with our friends and loved ones. I hope we don't ever forget how we were able to adapt to adversity and even turn our "prisons" into "playgrounds." During the last national crisis, the Great Recession, my friends and I came up with lots of creative and whimsical ways to recreate simply because we couldn't afford private jets and bottle service. Or even going out to eat every weekend. One way we had big fun on a smol budget was to throw absurdist theme parties. You don't have to be fancy if you can be funny. The aughts contained a lot of silly variations on 1980

TBT: The Magic of Essential Oils

Oh essential oils, beloved friend of loopy-goopy women of my own demographic marketing cohort, along with magic crystals, mystic doulas, organic pesticides, multi-level-marketed leggings, anything labeled as "herbal supplements," and alternatives to vaccination. The essential oil craze is something that has a basis in scientifically verifiable reality but has been endowed with magical, holy, pseudo-scientific properties for marketing purposes. I bought into it wholeheartedly before I learned that not all that crunches is harmless. All too often, legitimate fears based in reality (of toxic chemicals, unnecessary medical interventions, pharmaceutical side effects, etc.) are stoked to induce women like me to jump from the frying pan and into the fire of an "alternative" that may be at least as harmful as what it is supposedly protecting me and my family from. I still use certain essential oils for cleaning and other purposes, and I think everything I've stated in t

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: 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

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

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