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.

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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 I’ve also been reading a lot of historical content, where diaries appear pretty frequently as primary sources, and I realized I’m not really doing my part to help the future historians out.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! 

Rooting in 2014

January 6, 2015

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in our apartment in a predominately black neighborhood, listening to Christmas jazz and reading the writing of Ida B. Wells. And I thought about my verb for 2014, and just felt so strongly that yes, I had lived my year with the “root” in mind.

Root: 1. to implant or establish deeply 2. to pull, tear, or dig up by the roots 3. to poke, pry, or search, as if to find something 4. to unearth; bring to light

The fact that this verb has two opposite meanings was part of why I chose it, and the tension between putting down roots and digging them out was present throughout my year, culminating in the decision to uproot my family to move to New York to really establish myself in my career. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was (or, at least, it appears to have been) the right one. And that job was due, in no small part, to a post I published that felt incredibly true to my roots.

While my professional obligations meant I couldn’t do as much writing about race in 2014 as I had hoped, I still feel proud of the work I did, the things I read, and the stories I shared. And I know that that won’t end in 2015. I also got back to my roots in the more literal sense (see ya later, weave!), I rooted for someone else (Wendy Davis, bless her), and I spent a ton of time learning about and photographing flowers (which I loved). And Eric and I made our new family tree official when we jumped the broom.

I also dug into a my dad’s script right at the end of the year (like, the very end, the day after I was listening to Christmas music and thinking about my verb). While there’s a lot more to come on that front, I can say that things started to happen in a really beautiful and mysterious way within 24 hours of thinking that that was the last big thing I needed to check off for 2014.

In 2014, I read more, I wrote more, I explored a lot of the cool/weird things I loved when I was younger, I wrote about the things I love earnestly, I had to start wearing my glasses again. In other words, I did and celebrated all the things that have always felt like the most me things, and I did them without really wondering or caring whether these things matched other people’s vision of me. I hadn’t really planned or expected to get in touch with my roots this way in 2014, or thought of roots as being about my own strength and confidence, but that was another way my verb shaped by year.

One of my favorite scenes in The Time Traveler’s Wife (one of my favorite books!) is the day of Henry and Claire’s wedding, when Henry realizes that he doesn’t look like he should in his wedding photo (which he’s already seen in the future), so he goes and gets his long hair cut short. The line about him seeing his new haircut says something like “and suddenly, I am the man of my future.” That’s how I felt repeatedly during 2014…it was the year when suddenly my past completely connected with my future.

The holiday in review

January 4, 2015

We’re back in Brooklyn after two weeks of Christmas-ing!

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Here are some of the holiday highlights…

Going to Central Market on Christmas Eve morning. We had breakfast there and then shopped for holiday treats and gifts, our Christmas beef tenderloin, and fresh flowers. We did the same thing last year and I was really looking forward to doing it again this year. That place is magical and this trip is my favorite Christmas tradition.

Antiquing. I hadn’t planned to do any antiquing over the break but after Eric suggested it, we ended up spending two days in antique stores. My best find was a set of ivory and gold dishes with 15 (!!) place settings that cost $50. FIVE. ZERO. I figured the price was some kind of a mistake at first. I also scored a 1950s home ec textbook, a few cookbooks, vintage Christmas ornaments and wrapping paper, a 1950s copy of Seventeen, and some other odds and ends. It was a great way to spend a weekend.

Visiting the outlets and stopping for lunch/more shopping at Bucee’s. 

Seeing my family in Michigan and binge-listening to Serial with my mom.

Drinking spiked egg nog, eating store-bought Christmas cookies (my favorite), and watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for the first time.

Other things of note from the past two weeks…

Reading

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League. This book is good (though slow in parts), and as the title implies is really sad. But the author does a good job of keeping you focused on the story in front of you as you’re reading, so you aren’t dreading the inevitable ending. Definitely recommend.

Science…For Her! I haven’t made up my mind about this book yet; I’m still reading.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War. I started this book yesterday; I’m halfway done and really like it so far. I added it to my wish list a couple months ago after reading this post about how the badass author responded to a sexist review. It’s just a fascinating topic and I’m excited to keep reading.

Writing

23 Photos That Prove Sideboob Tattoos Are The Best Tattoos

19 Unique Family Holiday Traditions

36 Families Whose Resemblance Can’t Be Denied

25 Tutorials To Teach You To Fold Things Like An Actual Adult

30 Photos That Prove Makeup Doesn’t Have To Be “Natural” To Be Beautiful. I’ve been thinking a lot about the way incredibly unnatural makeup subverts the expectation that women should be effortlessly beautiful, and I had a lot of fun looking for photos for this post. And now I really want lavender hair.

The week ahead…

Just getting back into the swing of things…I can’t really wrap my head around the fact that it’s January 2015!

The week in review: Pinsanity

December 21, 2014

This week, I published my first big post for BuzzFeed: What Happened When I Lived According To The Pinterest Popular Page.

Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

On Sunday, I was pretty anxious, knowing the piece was going live on Monday morning. But I’m really proud of how it turned out, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. (It made the #1 trending spot on BuzzFeed last week!) Also interesting: a few of the bloggers whose photos I used emailed me to say how much they liked it, and to say that they, too, have a lot of Feelings about Pinterest.

On Wednesday, I went on HLN to talk about the story (see the clip here), which was pretty exciting. (My grandma called me a few weeks ago to tell me to turn on GMA because my coworkers were on. I got to visit hair and makeup first (I’m pretty sure they did a little contouring, which seemed funny, given the context) and the combination of the look, the blurred blue background, and the bright lights all made me look So CNN on air.

Beyond that, it was just a very BuzzFeed-y week!

together sweater

Photo by Lauren Zaser, Together Sweater sent to us by TOMS and Target after I wrote about it last month.

Wednesday was a day filled with gifts and surprises at work, and our holiday party was that night.

The keychains were part of our holiday gift (the photo and the keychains are from Various Keytags). The 772 is the number of BuzzFeed employees worldwide. And there’s the Shruggie, because they know what we like.

Other highlights from this week…

Writing

21 Drunk Santas Who Will Ruin Your Childhood

21 Kids Who Were Better Dressed Than You In 2014

20 Truly Horrifying Vintage Holiday Recipes

Enjoying

Denied, Medium.

Notes on “Kim”, Medium.

Let’s Talk About That Wendy Davis Cover of ‘Texas Monthly’, RH Reality Check.

Shani O. Hilton on Building a Newsroom at BuzzFeed, NeimanReports.

19 Times “Family Feud” Contestants Spoke The Damn Truth, BuzzFeed.

The New Cosmopolitan & the Slow Climb Out of Lipstick-and-Lasagna Land, Jezebel.

A Rockette, Camille Styles.

Of Monsters and Truth, Design for Mankind.

Why won’t McCulloch charge Witness #40 with perjury? Time for a special prosecutor, new grand jury, Daily Kos.

SNL’s perfect Serial parody.

And the second and third books in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan book series!

The week ahead…

Starting our holiday travels and celebrating Christmas! And looking to this and this for inspiration on what to read over the holiday.

The Neapolitan novels

December 20, 2014

Over the past two weeks, I read the first three novels in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan book series: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay. I cannot stop thinking about these books.

(Warning: do not judge a brilliant book by its 1990s-Lifetime-Movie-esque cover.)

The books were recommended by my friend Jessica; she told me that they were about a female friendship that began in Naples in the 1950s and spanned several decades, and that when the books begin, we know that one of the friends, now in her 60s, has gone missing. Since I didn’t know anything else about it and I’m not usually drawn to fiction, I wasn’t really sure where My Brilliant Friend was going at and I was a bit slow to get into it. But about midway through it, things started to click for me. I really got into the story during Book 2, and by Book 3, I couldn’t read it fast enough. I thought there were only three books, so I was both excited that there is a fourth, but also disappointed that Book 4 won’t be translated into English until September 2015.

The books are about the highs and lows of a female friendship, yes, but they are also about family, class, identity, marriage, work, sex, success, motherhood (and the lack of desire to be a mother), and womanhood. The writing is beautiful and extremely honest; the characters are often frustrating (and at times extremely unlikable) and just…real. And the books are relatable, often in ways that surprised me. (I also think that a lot of the protagonist’s experiences would hit home for African-American readers.)

I didn’t know that feminist principles would be so central to the book, and they actually sort of snuck up on me. And I’m not sure why, exactly, because the way women are treated is apparent—at times brutally so—in the early parts of the book, when the main characters are young girls. But I think because the early parts are told through the eyes of a young girl, it’s less keenly felt. But as the characters enter their teenage years, you begin to get a real sense of women’s lack of choices and their lack of mobility, and by adulthood in Book 3, it’s just like HOT DAMN, THIS IS SOME REAL TALK. But it’s not preachy at all; I think what makes the books so good is how plainly the narrator talks about these things.

If you liked Middlesex and/or The Interestings, you should read these books. If you did not like those books…read these anyway.

These would make for a great book club selection, though I do think you’d need to read all three books to have a real discussion on them. It’s also the kind of “women’s literature” that can and should be read/enjoyed by both sexes. I don’t think you can talk about the treatment of women in this book without examining masculinity and the expectations placed on men. Also, fuck, it’s high time we all read more female authors writing about women’s lives.

As the books went on, I found myself highlighting a ton. Here are some of the quotes that really stood out to me…but don’t read them until you’ve read the books so they can unfold for you in context!

“But staying near her meant staying in her world, becoming completely like her. And if I became like her, who would be right for me if not Antonio?”

“Because I’ve had it; it’s always the same story: inside something small there’s something even smaller that wants to leap out, and outside something large there’s always something larger that wants to keep it a prisoner. I’m going to cook.”

“There are people who leave and people who know how to be left.”

“I said to myself every day: I am what I am and I have to accept myself; I was born like this, in this city, with this dialect, without money; I will give what I can give, I will take what I can take, I will endure what has to be endured.”

“How easy it is to tell the story of myself without Lila: time quiets down and the important facts slide along the thread of the years like suitcases on a conveyor belt at an airport: you pick them up, put them on the page, and it’s done.”

“I knew very well at that that time, too, there had been shame. And uneasiness, and humiliation, and disgust: accept, submit, force yourself. Is it possible that even happy moments of pleasure never stand up to rigorous examination? Possible.”

“The more of a slut you are, the better off you are.”

“A male, apart from the mad moments when you love him and he enters you, always remains outside.”

“[The men] preferred to pretend that what happened at the hands of the boss miraculously didn’t happen to the women important to them.”

“He’s marrying me to have a faithful servant, that’s the reason all men get married.”

“Men, dazed by pleasure, absentmindedly sow their seed. Overcome by their orgasm, they fertilize us. They show up inside us and withdraw, leaving, concealed in our flesh, their ghost, like a lost object.”

“I was his wife, an educated wife, and he expected me to pay close attention when he spoke to me about politics, about his studies, about the new book he was working on, filled with anxiety, wearing himself out, but the attention had to be affectionate; he didn’t want opinions, especially if they caused doubts…even though I had had an education he did not want me to be capable of independent thought, he demeaned me by demeaning what I read, what interested me, what I said, and he appeared to love me only provided that I continually demonstrated my nothingness.”

“Maybe, I thought, I’ve given too much weight to the cultivated use of reason, to good reading, to well controlled language, to political affiliation; maybe, in the face of abandonment, we are all the same; maybe not even a very orderly mind can endure the discovery of not being loved.”

“But although we were all women, we struggled to understand what a woman was. Our every move or thought or conversation or dream, once analyzed in depth, seemed not to belong to us.”

Jessica had mentioned to me that the author of the books is quite mysterious—Elena Ferrante is a pen name, there are no photos of her, she’s never done a live interview. After reading the books and then a bunch of articles about her last night, I really appreciate that. The lack of an author with a strong persona allows you to get lost in the book and read it like an autobiography (which it likely is to some degree), but means there isn’t a clear ending in your head based on what you already know about the author’s own life. (I was surprised to read that a lot of people think the author is actually male; after reading the books, I genuinely have no idea why one would think that.) I haven’t decided yet if I’ll read her other books while I wait for Book 4; I’ve heard The Days of Abandonment is really good, but I’m a little afraid to mess with the perfection of this story in my head by introducing other characters and situations that are similar, but different. I…may just re-read these books again next week.

The week in review: The houseguest

December 14, 2014

This weekend, we had our first visitor! It was my friend Julia’s first trip to New York so I tried to find a good mix of fun things to do with her in Brooklyn and Manhattan. We basically just walked from one food destination to another, stopping to shop along the way. It was a blast.

The highlights:

Donuts at Dough. We opted for cinnamon sugar, salted chocolate, and plain glazed. I’m honestly still not over them yet.

Shopping at Brooklyn Flea. This was definitely one of the best parts of the weekend. I didn’t buy the gold scissors (THIS TIME) but I did buy a matted page from an old anatomy book (it features a diagram of a chastity belt) and some opaque pastel vintage christmas lights.

Ramen at Ippudo. There was a two-hour wait for dinner, so we headed to a bar nearby for drinks. I had McKenzie’s Seasonal Hard Cider which was SO GOOD. The wait actually went by pretty quickly and the ramen was really good.

Shopping at the Union Square Holiday Market. We did this because we had some time to kill but it ended up being really fun and worth it. (We found the perfect Christmas gift for my mother-in-law so I’m pretty pumped about that!) My only regret was that we weren’t hungry when we were there because all the food booths looked and smelled amazing.

Brunch at Peaches. The roasted potatoes were the best ever. So was the soundtrack. And the omelet. It was all just SO GOOD.

Other things of note from this week…

Writing

31 Subscription Gifts They’ll Love All Year

These Guys Created Beard Ornaments To Decorate Your Face For The Holidays

19 Guys With Tat Sleeves Who Will Make You Thirsty

Here’s What You Should Make Your Family This Christmas

31 Brilliant Ikea Hacks Every Parent Should Know

Reading

I finished My Brilliant Friend on Thursday and started The Story of a New Name first thing Friday. I’m hooked!

The week ahead…

The countdown to Christmas is on!

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