What I read: Dec–Jan

Trick mirror

Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

This collection of essays made me feel like Tolentino was inside my brain, pulling out all my half-formed qualms and questions about modern culture and turning them into deeply smart, well-researched speculations about what the internet has done to human society. She peels away the layers on topics like the performance inherent in social media, the ridiculous extravagance of modern weddings, and the surprisingly similar experiences offered by religion and the drug Ecstasy. It’s a dense read and worth taking some time to fully digest. 4/5

 

All souls trilogy

The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

I was expecting to like this series more than I did. I’m usually a sucker for fantasy stories with magic and witches and prophesies, but this one just wasn’t that exciting. The world-building was inviting, but the story dragged a bit and the romance had me rolling my eyes every few chapters with its Twilight-like undertones. The heroine spent a good portion of the books being a wet noodle and literally got swept off her feet too many times to take any of it very seriously. 2.5/5

 

americanah

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Running 600 pages, this book had the confusing problem of being too drawn out while also making me wish I’d gotten more details on certain plot points and characters. Until the last part of the book, the narrative felt more like vignettes of the characters’ lives instead of a cohesive story, making it hard to stay engaged. There were, however, some really fascinating character relationships and illuminating points about race and the immigrant experience that definitely makes this book a worthwhile read. 3.5/5

 

my year of rest

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

If internet memes are any indication, lots of us can relate to a desire to forget the incessant traumas of the world and sleep a year away swathed in easygoing movies and a full bank account. This story is bizarre and unsettling but also tender and hopeful. Writing style is a big factor in whether I can really connect with a book, and Moshfegh’s unsentimental boldness telling this truly weird story totally captured me. I’m looking forward to reading everything else she’s written. 4.5/5

Seasonally unimpressed

I’ve been working on putting together a new playlist every month but never got around to sharing this one from November—aka the unofficial start of seasonal depression season. I missed making a playlist for December and haven’t gotten around to making one for January yet, but since we’re still in the thick of winter gloom and a collective post-holiday hangover, I think this playlist is still pretty appropriate.

Have a listen!

So this is the new year

The last couple months were stressful. A family health scare consumed most of my time and energy, but things have leveled out now and I’m able to think more clearly again.

I took two weeks off of work for the holidays and to rest my brain. I returned yesterday, still a little unclear about my direction, so I spent most of the day thinking about goals for this year. They mainly revolve around making/saving more money to move to California, which isn’t all that exciting, so I decided to spice things up and create a new daily goal for each month of the year. Every January I do Yoga with Adriene’s 30 day yoga series which always adds a little excitement to the month. I was thinking about how to apply that new year energy to the rest of the year and came up with daily goals for the remaining months:

January: Do yoga every day

February: Meditate every day

March: Read every day

April: List to a podcast every day

May: Go for a walk every day

June: Wake up at 7am every day

July: No TV for the month

August: Talk to/text/message a friend/family member every day

September: Take 1 photo every day

October: Do some art every day

November: Write every day

December: Listen to 1 new album every day

Hoping I can build some new, good habits in the process and add some positive energy to each day. I tried to make all these habits really doable so I wouldn’t set myself up for failure. I’m a little nervous about June—my sleeping habits have always been pretty erratic—but waking up early is something I’ve been wanting to train myself to do for a long time, and this seems like the right opportunity to work on it. I’ll report back on how this all goes.

 

A thing I read

what great inconvenience

Are you willing to embrace that truly slight inconvenience — and maybe pay a few dollars more — so that a person’s job is significantly less shitty? Think about in practice: are you willing to wait five more minutes for an Uber so that, when you get in, you know that your drive has health insurance and is making a living wage? Are you willing to pay $4 more for your yoga class (YOUR YOGA CLASS!) so that your teacher, who you likely venerate, can have some semblance of the stability/peace you yourself are attempting to find BY GOING TO YOGA??? Are you willing to have slightly less so that others can have significantly more? Or, as I like to think about it, do you actually care about other people?

Lately, lots of us are thinking and talking about burnout. How our work and daily routines are making us tired and sucking the joy out of our lives. We’re starting to think about what actions we can take to alleviate the feeling of burnout in our own lives. But this article asks us to think about how our actions can create burnout in other people

In a small sense, that means respecting the boundaries of our colleagues, friends and family in a golden rule type fashion (do unto others…etc). But in a larger sense, that means buying into systems that respect those boundaries and allow us feel like real humans instead of meaningless cogs in the capitalist machine. And maybe MAYBE making a small, slightly uncomfortable impact on our own lives in an effort to make a much larger, game-changing impact on someone else’s life.

I think this idea is so important and one we don’t often think about. Don’t we all just want everything cheaper, faster, bigger? If it comes at the expense of another person’s wellbeing and financial stability, personally I’d rather have it a little more expensive, slower and smaller.

I found this article courtesy of Jocelyn K. Glei‘s newsletter which always has really great links about work, creativity, and making your life more enjoyable.

This fall

I intend to be the kind of person who does what she says she’ll do. It mostly doesn’t work out that way, but the intention is there. I make to-do lists so at the very least there’s evidence that I’m alive and trying. Here’s what I’m trying at this fall:

  • Obligatory: go apple & pumpkin picking / carve said pumpkins / visit the cider mill
  • Continue spending time outside as much as possible before it gets frigid
  • Take a trip up north to see the trees change colors and get some quiet time away from home
  • Bake a pie
  • Host a spooky movie night
  • Purge the house of unwanted things so I’m not surrounded by ugly junk while I’m stuck inside all winter
  • Cook a big ass meal for my friends

What are you trying at this season?

September things

Hey, here’s what I got up to in September:

candles-small2

I attended DIY Fair and bought some killer candles. Every year my neighborhood hosts a weekend-long event where local artists and crafters set up shop under big white tents that take over two entire parking lots plus main street. I go just about every year and struggle not to spend an entire month’s income on art, candles, jewelry, and food. This year, I maintained my self control and only purchased a giant roasted veggie sandwich covered in hash browns and three candles from this shop I love called Pagan Potions. I bought the Unfuck Yourself candle from them last year and loved it, so I got another one this year plus Money Money Money and Manifestation Muthafucka. They’re all so beautiful and smell amazing. I’ve been burning the Unfuck Yourself one every day the past couple weeks, and I’ve felt so much more motivated and at peace than usual.

giphy-3

I cozied up at home and watched a whole bunch of tv. I started and finished the last season of Jessica Jones which I loved. I’m really bummed the series is over. I’m not generally that into super hero stuff, but the characters and story lines in Jessica Jones made it a great show that would’ve held up without any of the super stuff. My boyfriend and I started and finished the first season of Altered Carbon which was decent. The story was interesting, but it was a little hard to follow at some points. I wasn’t super invested in any of the characters, but the world building was pretty cool. My favorite thing I watched was definitely The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance. I started off by re-watching the original Dark Crystal movie, which was a huge staple in my childhood, before racing through the new show in the course of one weekend. I was a little nervous about how it would maintain continuity with the original movie, but I was pleasantly surprised that they treated the original with respect and brought in some interesting new pieces that actually fit well with the existing narrative.

peanut-sauce

I cooked so many stir fries with the spicy sriracha peanut sauce from this list. I’m obsessed with this sauce—it’s mega easy to make, I always keep the ingredients stocked in my pantry, and it’s so good I honestly lick the spoon to get every last drop. I like to pair this sauce with brown rice or buckwheat noodles (these are my go-to) + whatever veggies I have on hand + tempeh or whatever Quorn fake meat product I currently have in my freezer. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, this would be it.

giphy-4

I had my regularly scheduled cleaning at the dentist. Keeping up with doctor appointments is a super important part of self care! I don’t particularly like the dentist, but it does feel really good to check it off my list and come home knowing that my mouth is healthy. It keeps those anxious what-if-I-have-a-million-cavities-and-need-ten-root-canals thoughts at bay. At every visit I schedule my next one for six months out since that makes it a WHOLE lot more likely that I’ll remember to go. My dentist even sends me text reminders a few days before my appointment which is super helpful. Consider this your call to GET YOU A DENTIST YOU ACTUALLY LIKE and MAKE THAT APPOINTMENT today.

What did you get up to in September?