Three things about clutter

February 19, 2015

Packing is terrible for a number of reasons, but mainly because it makes you hate yourself and your life choices. Why do I own this? Why didn’t I throw this thing away three years ago? Why am I so goddamn materialistic and wasteful? WHY DID I WANT TO MOVE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

clutter

In the midst of packing hell this week, I happened upon a few interesting articles about clutter and how to get rid of it. The first, The Clutter Cure’s Illusory Joy, was just an interesting read on how different cultures feel about clutter. Meanwhile, my friend Dallas is currently doing the 40 bags in 40 days challenge. And finally, this article had some really good advice on getting rid of things (even if you aren’t going through a breakup). Here are the three best tips I took away from it:

1. Take everything out (of the closet, bookshelf, etc.) first. As you go through each item, ask yourself “Does this item spark joy when I touch it?” This helps you to think in terms of what you want you want to keep, versus what you need to get rid of. It also helps with the feeling that you’re being wasteful.

2. De-clutter by category, not by location. In order, you should do clothes, books, papers, miscellany, and mementos. I actually didn’t do this with packing (I’ve been doing it by location, but have also been jumping around a lot) but last night I righted the ship and went through my closet.

3. Scan paperwork and toss the original copies. Logically, I’ve known this is a good idea for a while…and yet I’ve never really felt compelled to do it. But now that I have a great scanning app on my phone (Scanner Pro is legitimately amazing), I’m feeling motivated to try it. I haven’t started tackling the paper yet, but when I do that tonight, I think scanning some of it will be really helpful!

The week in review

February 17, 2015

Aside from flying to Houston and celebrating my first wedding anniversary, here are the rest of the highlights from last week…

Paper rose

Writing

These Women Recreated Iconic Photos From Black History

This Wedding Dress Has Been Worn By Three Generations Of Brides

Impress Anyone With This Oversized Paper Rose

 

Reading

Finally, an Answer to the “What Are You?” Ethnicity Question, Glamour (I read this in the magazine and was sort of unable to contain myself; it was so good and I related to it so much.)

The 12 Commandments of Marriage, A Practical Wedding

13 “Fifty Shades Of Grey” Quotes That Need To Be In The Movie, BuzzFeed

How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life, The New York Times

What I Imagine My Boyfriend’s Ex-Girlfriends Are Doing Right Now, The New Yorker

11 Facts That Will Change The Way You Think About Jails In America, BuzzFeed

If Disney Couples Starred in “Fifty Shades of Grey”, Cosmopolitan.com

The Husband Did It, The Awl

Federal Prison Is Nothing Compared to the Inhumanity of Rikers, xoJane

The NYT wrote about lynching by white people without using the word “white”, Vox

7 cultural concepts we don’t have in the U.S., Mother Nature Network (Hygge!!!)

The Love Story Behind Alabama’s First Legally Married Same-Sex Couple, BuzzFeed

Anita Florence Hemmings: Passing For White At Vassar, HubPages

Radical Farmers Use Fresh Food to Fight Racial Injustice and the New Jim Crow, Yes Magazine

‘Nothing Short of Attempted Murder': A Brief History of Anti-Vaxxers, Jezebel

In Defense Of Kanye’s Vanity: The Politics Of Black Self-Love, BuzzFeed

So. You Wanna Lose Weight. Seinberg Health

This gorgeous Valentine’s Day boudoir shoot (NSFW)

And People Style Watch and Glamour. Plus more of Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women.

The week ahead…

Just more packing.

One year

February 16, 2015

This weekend, Eric and I celebrated Valentine’s Day and our first wedding anniversary. We marked the 14th with a breakfast at Miller’s in Galveston (where we went on our honeymoon) and then a visit to the outlets (our V-Day tradition). We spent the 15th taking a road trip to Austin to pick up our anniversary cake. (Instead of having you save the top tier, our baker just bakes her couples a fresh cake on their first anniversary.) We also absolutely gorged ourself on brunch at Lambert’s (the restaurant where our reception was) and then attempted to walk it off with a stroll around the river. (It didn’t work; we weren’t even able to eat our cake last night, we were still so full.)

Now that the fun stuff is over, we have to get onto the not at all fun stuff: packing. The time has come to pack up our house in Texas and drive all our shit to Brooklyn. It’s a big way to start our second year of marriage and while I’m looking forward to the marriage part, the being in NYC part, and even the two-day drive part, packing is an unromantic goddamn nightmare and I’ve got a lot of feelings about saying good-bye to our home and to Houston for real this time. But hey: at least there’s cake.

The week in review: The week we were all Left Shark

February 8, 2015

This week was just a complete blur. Seriously, I’m not sure where each day went. It was just overall busier and way more stressful than I was expecting, and a lot of people around me said that was how they were feeling too. Basically, we were all Left Shark this week.

Left Shark

But the weekend was pretty good and I have clean laundry, so I feel like things are looking up! Here are this week’s highlights…

Entertained by

The Fosters! Lauren got me watching it last night and now I kind of can’t stop.

Reading

Here’s What It’s Like For A Woman To Send a Job Rejection To A Man, Medium

Dear Little Daughter, Letters of Note

Creative Mornings and Messy Bathrooms, Wit & Delight

Your Son Is Deceased, The New Yorker

Sweetness, Toni Morrison (!!) in The New Yorker

Charity and Sylvia: The Remarkable Story of How Two Women Married Each Other in Early America, Brain Pickings

Madam C.E.O., Get Me a Coffee: Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant on Women Doing ‘Office Housework,’ The New York Times

George Washington Carver, The Black History Monthiest Of Them All, NPR

Labor Pains, The New Republic

Cambodia Is China’s Newest Market For Foreign Brides, BuzzFeed

How I Learned To Fall Asleep In Under 1 Minute, Byrdie

Believing that life is fair might make you a terrible person, The Guardian

Poem: The Internet from A to Z, 2015, Quartz

The Greatest Train Harassment Story Ever Told, @RantingOwl

As for books, I put the moonshine book on hold to read I’ll Have What She’s Having: My Adventures in Celebrity Dieting (there was a review copy in the office). It was a very quick read and a subject that’s near and dear to my heart…but I didn’t love it. This review perfectly sums up how I felt about it, and while this review is even more harsh, I can’t say I disagree with it.

Writing

25 Insanely Sexist Vintage Valentines

Here’s What You Should Do About Your Tampon When You Poop

21 Couples Whose One-Night Stands Led To True Love

How To Write A Love Letter

This Valentine’s Day Bouquet Is Borderline Genius

The week ahead…

Mercury turns direct on Wednesday! HUZZAH!

The week in review: Happy February!

February 1, 2015

This week felt like it happened in two parts. First, there was the blizzard that wasn’t. Then there was the rest of the week. And in the middle, there was at least one day of things just feeling off

But! Things are pretty much back to normal now (despite Mercury-retrograde-related hijinks) and—hey!—it’s February!

Yesterday, I went to the Birchbox store in Soho and had my nails done. I had a voucher for a free treatment that a coworker passed along because she couldn’t use it; I decided to use it for a manicure with nail art. I wouldn’t normally get a non-gel manicure but I figured since I wasn’t paying for it, I wouldn’t care if it chipped quickly (as all non-gel manicures do). But it chipped obscenely quickly—like, within a few hours, the polish on my left pinkie had come clean off. Now most of my other nails are chipping really badly too. I’m glad I didn’t spend $30 on it.

Here’s what else I had going on this week…

Entertained by

Empire. A lot of my coworkers are into it (as evidenced by this article, this article, and this article) so I started watching on Friday night. My friend Lauren perfectly described it as “it’s so good and terrible at the same time.”

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS, This American Life. The incomparable Lindy West interviews her biggest troll.

Scandal (traumatic) and How to Get Away With Murder (anti-climactic).

The Home Sweet Home playlist on Spotify.

Reading

Searching for Sex, The New York Times

Rashida Jones Corrects Dum-Dum Reporter: ‘I’m Ethnic’, Jezebel

Stay-at-Home Parents Already Get a Tax Preference, The New York Times

A Leslie Knope In A World Full Of Liz Lemons, Medium

Rush After ‘A Rape On Campus': A UVA Alum Goes Back to Rugby Road, Jezebel

7 reasons you’re always late, A Cup of Jo*

The Promise in Elena Ferrante, Jezebel

How ‘Empire’s’ top stylist makes cast look like a million bucks, The New York Post

The Truth About Your Smile, The Hairpin. (I made a dentist appointment immediately after reading this.)

Why Opponents of a New Planned Parenthood Are Doing Everything in Their Power to Stop It, Cosmopolitan.com

I also finished reading I Am Not a Slut! this week and I was pretty glad to wrap that up; it felt like it took forever to get through it.  The book wasn’t bad (though there was one chapter I just did not like) but it got a little repetitive and I felt like I was reading more for a school assignment than for pleasure. I’m still reading Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women (which also has an academic tone, but I find more interesting overall) and I started Moonshine: A Cultural History of America’s Infamous Liquor on Friday.

*Passive-aggressive share

Writing

This Is What The First Photographs Of Snowflakes Looked Like

You Can Now Pay A Company $32,000 To Give Your Baby A Unique Name

How To Be A Friend To Someone Who Has Had A Miscarriage

Did You And Your Significant Other Have Sex On The First Date?

This Post-Apocalyptic Engagement Shoot Is Totally Badass

A Woman Left Her Husband Of 60 Years An Adorable Love Note To Find After She Died

The week ahead…

Lauren is coming to visit this weekend!

Learning in 2015

January 26, 2015

My verb for 2015 is pretty simple: learn. And not in the touchy-feely “I learned so much and really found myself” sort of way…but in a real, tangible, read-books-take-notes-kill-it-at-trivia-night sort of way.

I’ve always loved reading, but in the past few years, I’ve just stopped making time for it. It’s not that I’m not reading anything; it’s just that what I’m reading has changed a lot. I’m spending way less time reading books and far more time reading articles and blogs. And on one level, that’s fine—there are a lot of really good, really smart articles being written, and I’m not going to beat myself up for zoning out to mindless stuff once in a while—but eventually it just started to feel kind of gross. It’s so easy to kill 45 minutes here and 20 minutes there doing that kind of reading, and then you don’t have the time to do the kind of reading that really fills your soul.

And now I’m in NYC, working in a place where I’m surrounded by so many incredibly smart people who love reading and just know so much about a wide variety of topics…so this is not the time to let my brain turn to mush; it’s time to start re-working those muscles.

332

My main goal for 2015 is to be more intentional with my reading habits. I spend two hours a day commuting, which is plenty of time for learning, whether that happens via books, audiobooks, or podcasts. I don’t feel like I need to spend every minute of my commute consuming highbrow stuff…but I do want to spend at least one way of my commute doing something that feeds my brain. I’ve definitely noticed that the days/weeks that I’ve been doing that, I feel really good.

Beyond that, I’m going to do my best to take advantages of opportunities for leaning from my brilliant coworkers. I’m already learning so much about writing and journalism at BuzzFeed, and I feel inspired to go deeper into the subjects that really interest me. I’m also enjoying the new-to-me habit of working with experts for the stories I’m working on.

Finally, I want to get back to journaling. I’ve been keeping journals since I was eight years old, but I’ve been pretty sporadic about it since college; it didn’t feel as necessary when blogging became my main writing outlet and then I started writing all day for a living. But I miss having a place to write down my experiences and to privately work through them. I’ve also been reading a lot of historical content, where diaries appear pretty frequently as primary sources, and I realized I’m not really doing my part to help the future historians out. So…time to get on that!

See previous years’ verbs: 20112012, 2013, 2014.

The week in review

January 25, 2015

I get anxiety about going out to eat in New York. I’ve found that whenever you ask people for a recommendation, they tend to assume you want something really impressive/trendy and so they end up recommending a place where you’ll pay $27 for two “braised beef cheeks” that are the size of poker chips and arrive at your table atop a minuscule pile of mashed potatoes, and the promised “side of asparagus” is actually a single spear of asparagus. Finding places that are delicious but also unfussy is an ongoing challenge, which is why I tend to stick to the same places…but then I feel self-conscious about that too.

But this week, I actually ended up trying two new-to-me restaurants…and both were really good! On Saturday night, Eric and I went to Pork Slope in Brooklyn. I had the nachos (YUM!) and he had the porky melt (not my cup of tea) with tator tots (TOTALLY my cup of tea); we both had whiskey cocktails and got a little silly. It was great!

This morning, I met my fellow APW writing intern Elisabeth for brunch at Miriam. I got the Mediterranean Crispy Dough with fried eggs and it was so good. Plus she’s a really warm and wonderful person so it was just a lovely friend outing!

I will probably go back to both of these places with any and all visitors for the next two months.

After brunch, Elisabeth and I wandered around for a bit. I was hoping to find a stationery shop so I could buy a new journal; I hit the jackpot and found a gold metallic one.

I found this little bit of joy at Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store, which is…my new favorite store. Seriously, it was filled with funny cards and clever gifts and so many pretty little things. I could have spent all my money in there but I limited myself to the journal…and a new brand of dog booties to try out.

It was a pretty good week overall! Here’s the rest of what I was up to…

Reading

This Is What One Man Learned From Wearing Makeup For A Week, BuzzFeed

My Favorite Inexpensive Hostess Gift, Cupcakes and Cashmere

Can We Solve Our Child-Care Problem? New York Magazine

Training, Tanning, and Branding With The Bikini Bodybuilding Stars Of Instagram, BuzzFeed

How I Learned To Stop Hating My Body and Start Hating My Horrible Personality, Reductress

How Should an Abortion Be? Gawker

Oregon Was Founded As a Racist Utopia, Gizmodo

When Women Take to the Sea to Provide Safe Abortions, Bitch

Getting Grief Right, The New York Times

The unfulfilled promise of the Crock-Pot, an unlikely symbol of women’s equality, Washington Post

The Aging of Abercrombie & Fitch, Businessweek

And the answer to the question “Hey Buzzfeed… Do you REALLY want your readers to think you support so-called ‘feminist’ ideology?

Writing

23 Photos Of Beautiful Brides Wearing Glasses

Here’s What Bratz Dolls Look Like Without Their Makeup On

21 Badass Engagement Rings For Men

This Couple Is Auctioning Off Tickets To Their Vegas Wedding Starting At $300

What It Looks Like When Real People Re-Create Iconic Kisses

The week ahead…

Trying a new/slightly different train route to the office…really exciting stuff over here!

Good mourning: The Met’s ‘Death Becomes Her’ exhibit

January 20, 2015

Among Dallas’s and my many fun activities last weekend, one of the things we did was go to The Met for the exhibit Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire. This exhibit was actually a big part of why Dallas scheduled her trip when she did. I find funeral history pretty fascinating, and the exhibit’s focus on women made it particularly appealing to both of us.

While the collection was beautiful, the exhibit’s execution left a lot to be desired. The space was really tight, so people were constantly backing into each other and Dallas and I both felt really rushed so we could get out of the way. The low lighting caused shadows to cover the text that explained each gown, making it nearly impossible to read. (What we did learn, we gleaned from speed-reading and from the photos we were able to snap of some of the explanations.) The lighting also caused people to cast shadows over the quotes about mourning attire that were being projected onto the walls throughout the exhibit, thus making them pretty much useless. It was really, really frustrating, and by the end we just wanted to get the hell out. I wish they had made people make reservations for the exhibit, which would have limited the amount of people in there, cut down on the shadow problem, and helped us feel less rushed.

That said, the dresses were great. There were day dresses, evening dresses, and a wedding dress, and every single one was in amazing condition; they definitely didn’t look like they were more than a century old. (If someone had told me they were just made as costumes for a historical drama, I would have believed them.) I would have loved to learn more about how the gowns were likely preserved. (Most were from the mid 19th century and were donated to museums in the 1950s, which left us wanting to know the stories of who was saving them, how, and why.) 

We also couldn’t get over how petite the mannequins were (and we heard other people talking about this as well). You always hear that people were smaller back in the day, but this was the first time I really understood how that would look. It wasn’t just that they were thinner or just that they were shorter; it was like everything had been reduced to 75 percent of the size we’re used to.

The mannequins’ silvery-white wigs were also really beautiful and added a haunting and elegant vibe to the whole exhibit.

And what we were able to read about the gowns was really interesting. One of the things I found most interesting was how mourning attire was an outer representation of grief that lasted for much longer than we really allow people to grieve today. I mean, can you imagine a woman who had lost a loved one wearing black every day (accessorized with a few pieces of hair jewelry) for more than a year in modern times? Like, HR would probably get involved at some point.

(All photos via The Met)

The week in review

January 19, 2015

This weekend, my friend Dallas took the train up from D.C. for a visit! Despite the fact that Saturday was insanely cold and it poured on Sunday, we had a great time.

Here were the highlights…

Shopping at the Birchbox store in SoHo. After Birchbox, we wandered over to the going-out-of-business sale at C. Wonder, where I found something I had been looking for for more than a month: a chic little leather belt bag. Yes, it’s a fanny pack and I have NO SHAME about that because not having to carry a purse over my shoulders feels like feminism and freedom and I love it. It was also $20, so that was a major win.

Going to the Harlem Gospel Choir brunch. Fun, but realllllllllly touristy. (Overheard: “They’re talking about Jesus A LOT.”)

Hitting up the Brooklyn Flea. We started our trip with donuts from the Dough stand and then had a lot of fun shopping. I ended up with some great vintage books and issues of Cosmopolitan from 1939 and 1940.

Sipping the best hot chocolate at Emeline’s. I now know that all hot chocolate should have cinnamon sprinkled on top of the whipped cream.

Taking in the Met’s Death Becomes Her exhibit. This was the main reason Dallas scheduled her trip when she did; more thoughts on it tomorrow!

Staying up late talking about the meaning of life (I mean…basically). But really, talking about everything from losing a parent to relationships to life goals to body image to social media. Friendship, man.

Basically, we had a blast! One of the best things about being in NYC is that it puts me in much closer proximity to my friends, and I’m so excited that visits like this will be a regular thing here.

Other things of note this week…

Reading

When Will The North Face Its Racism?, The New York Times.

Ellen Craft, the Slave Who Posed as a Master and Made Herself Free, Jezebel.

Miss American Dream, Medium.

How Buzzfeed is Trying to Kill Me, GQ.

Watch 100 Years Of Black Hairstyles In Less Than A Minute, BuzzFeed.

Man Spends 16 Years Turning An Old Plantation Into A Memorial To Honor The Once Enslaved, Sunny Skyz.

Let’s Get Drinks, The New Yorker.

I am not a mother, but I can have an opinion on parenting, Daily Life.

There’s An Unlicensed “Frozen” App Where You Deliver Anna’s Baby, BuzzFeed.

It Is One Thing To Date Your Father But There Is No Excuse For Not Knowing The Difference Between The Tudors And The Hapsburgs, The Toast.

Damage, The Big Roundtable.

If Hermione Were The Main Character In “Harry Potter”, BuzzFeed.

I’m also still working my way through I Am Not a Slut, and I started Pageants, Parlors, and Pretty Women: Race and Beauty in the Twentieth-Century South this week, which is so interesting so far.

Writing

How Often You Really Need To Shower (According To Science). Which got a huge response and got picked up by TODAY, among others!

19 Vintage Photos That Celebrate Black Women’s Beauty

Your Wedding Needs 100% More Nacho Fountain

The week ahead…

Moving into our new office at work and enjoying the four-day week!

The week in review

January 11, 2015

This week, I attended my first waffle party!

waffle party

You may be wondering, what, exactly, a waffle party is. Well, my coworker invited a bunch of people over to her apartment where she had three waffle irons, pitchers of waffle batter, tons of delicious toppings, and additional foods like waffle fries and ingredients for additional foods to make in the waffle irons (quesadillas, grilled cheese). So…a waffle party!

waffle party

waffle party

It was great! She also included her wifi info in the invitation and the network was “waffles,” which I thought was a really nice touch. I also appreciated the midday time (2:30-6:30). More super-specific food parties on Saturday afternoons, please!

This week was also memorable because of the cold and snow in New York.

I was unfazed by the weather (and kind of enjoyed the pretty snow), but our poor dogs have not experienced snow and cold temperatures before. Chuck was basically traumatized. He’d start hobbling on just three paws, and then would attempt to hop around on two, before finally coming to sit down on my foot/leg to let me know he’d had enough. On the third day, the coldest day, he did that again…and then started to cry when I tried to make him walk back to the apartment. Not a full-on shriek, but not a whimper either. I ended up carrying him back to that apartment (where he was very sulky) and starting the process of finding decent dog booties. The ones from Petco wouldn’t stay on and the XX-small Muttluks we ordered were a bit too big; here’s hoping the “tiny” Muttluks work out this week!

Other things of note from this first week of the new year…

Reading

First, books: I finished Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War and ended up really loving it. Now I’m reading I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet for my work book club. 

Also:

12 Historical Women Who Gave No F*cks, BuzzFeed.

What Ruth Bader Ginsburg Taught Me About Being a Stay-at-Home Dad, The Atlantic.

In Marriage, Beware of Big Boxes, The New York Times.

A Chat with Alexandra Billings, Trans Activist & Transparent Actress, Jezebel.

I’d Love To Help My Wife Do The Dishes, But I’m Trapped Under Something Heavy, The Toast.

Michael Brown, Sr. and the Agony of the Black Father in America, Esquire.

Life Without Police, The Marshall Project, and Why Black New Yorkers Like Me Are Celebrating the NYPD Work Slowdown, The New Republic.

The Other Half Of the Story, Sports Illustrated.

U.S. Bishops Take Aim at Sterilization, ProPublica.

Listless, leggy dolls: How the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show desexualizes sex, Salon.

The Intercept’s ‘Serial’ Trolling Is Just Mind-Boggling, Medium.

Entertained by

13 Feminist New Year’s Resolutions.

The first episode of “Invisibilia,” NPR’s new podcast.

This lovely video featuring Uzo Aduba.

A Nerdette interview with Karen Abbott, the author of Liar, Temptress, Solider, Spy. This was my first time listening to this podcast and I liked it! I intend to listen to more in the future.

And Selma. Which I will write more about in a post that isn’t dominated by discussions of waffle parties and dog shoes.

Writing

23 Pinup Girls Who’ve Put A Modern Twist On Old-School Beauty

This Photographer Proves Anyone Can Look Like An Elite Athlete With Just A Few Tricks

21 Tips For Slaying At Work From Top Bosses

This Instagram Account Literally Can’t Even And It’s Amazing

The week ahead…

Pretty much business as usual BUT I’m really excited because Dallas is coming to visit next weekend and we have a ton of great stuff planned! 

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