Women’s bodies are a battleground on all fronts, not just reproductive.
Jennifer Brea is the founder of #MEAction, a patients-rights platform for those who suffer from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, and I’m proud to serve on the board. The disease is more commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and it predominantly affects women. Many patients are diagnosed with a modern-day form of hysteria. Did you even know that was still a thing? “You’re a Harvard PhD student who can no longer write her own name? Perhaps you have the vapors.”
Please plug in your headphones and listen to Jen’s talk. I can’t stop thinking about it.
Do you have a carry-on suitcase you love? I’ve spent hours researching the perfect bag: reading posts by seasoned travelers, watching You Tube videos about luggage, obsessing over the latest collaboration. Nothing ever seems just right for me.
So here’s the plan I’ve settled on as a frequent traveler and educated consumer:
Buy a bag with a single compartment.
It doesn’t have to charge your phone, or have a locking compartment for your valuables, or a place for your suit. Find a carry-on sized suitcase on sale, and then check for:
– Zippers with sturdy pulls that slide easily,
– Wheels that seem sturdy and roll smoothly.
– Handles or something baggage handlers can grab quickly on three sides.
And then buy the sucker. What makes the bag useful is how you pack it. Buying internal compartments separately, and assuming you’ll need to replace the exterior bag every few years, makes good sense.
Here’s how I subdivide a typical carryon:
– Two large packing cubes filled with rolled clothing. We have a different color set for each family member.
– One small packing cube for underwear, socks, PJs, and accessories like scarves.
– A rectangular dopp kitt.
– Shoe bags for my shoes (or you can put disposable shower caps over them)
I also pack three empty bags:
– A checkable duffle for purchases.
– A large mesh laundry bag for dirty clothes.
– A small mesh lingerie bag for packing wet swimsuits.
– A nylon travel purse.
If you buy an inexpensive, but sturdy bag, you won’t mind when it inevitably gets stained or scuffed because you were forced to gate check. You won’t be furious when you have to get wheels or zippers replaced because you paid too much to have the bag break so easily. You won’t suffer buyer’s remorse because one of the pockets isn’t the perfect size for your niche use. And you won’t attract attention to your blingy bag when ne’erdowells are looking on.
Buy a cheap, basic bag, and let each scuff feel as good as a passport stamp.
Art World pettiness is so labor intensive. Artists don’t just talk shit to shame you, they spend a year or two creating something that shames you.
Case in point: A few years ago, Artist Anish Kapoor went a little Sméagol and secured exclusive rights to a pigment dubbed Vantablack. It’s said to be the “blackest black” material available, and it’s his, aaaaall his.
This provoked Artist Stuart Semple, who responded by creating this:
It’s called Pinkest Pink, and you can have some for about five bucks. That is, unless you’re Anish Kapoor. Semple’s shop prohibits procurement by Kapoor or an agent thereof.
The pink pigment sold out almost immediately, and while he was manufacturing more, Semple also developed Diamond Dust.
It’s the glitteriest glitter known to man. Or rather, known to all but that one man.
This long weekend is a friend’s murder-mystery birthday party where I’m a trashy nogoodnik* and Brad is a trumpet player. Later, we’re attending a birthday where the host wants us to bring items to help compile care packages for people in need. Isn’t that nice? I think so too. Also a trip to the zoo, meeting a friend’s new beau in wine country, and so much laundry. So very much. Some nice links I saved for you:
The best podcast of all is My Favorite Murder. Do you listen to this? It’s not for everyone, but it’s probably for you, because you’re here reading this website so we sometimes like the same stuff. Bonus, the hosts are two ladies! Muuuuuuurdeeeeerr.
Dear person adding monsters to thrift store paintings, let’s hang out.
Did I ever make you listen to young Adele singing Sam Cooke? Do it! Or do it again! Gah. So good.
What are these flowers?! And when can I get them at Trader Joes? The world is ripe with crazy stuff that only rich people can access, until they figure out how to make the things more portable. Bring to me the monster mums, Economy.
Oh Happy Day did a sound reference post on how to hang party decorations. Useful.
*Note to entrepreneurs: trashynogoodnik.com is available. I’m as surprised as you.
I’m joining in Pip’s tradition of taking stock this month, and she has a blank list you can copy over if you want to join too.
Making : A New Year’s garland with tinsel tassel and champagne corks from celebrations in my life. All the corks were in a box with tags on them and it was starting to be less “celebration collection!” and more “why do you have this box of trash?”
Cooking : Vegan oatmeal, and peanut butter cookies. Brad is allergic to eggs and dairy, so I’ve been using flax seed as an egg substitute and soy products in my baking. I can’t tell the difference, and Brad is totally still alive thanks to hippie bullshit. Well done, hippies.
Drinking : Boozy root beer called Not Your Father’s Root Beer. It’s delicious, if weirdly named. Stereotypically speaking, old-timey dads were full-time drunk. Maybe the brewer is the son of a pastor or something? In which case I say, “Not your father’s root beer, dude.”
Reading: Atlas Obscura, a compendium of unusual places. It’s a delight, except it’s too big to read in bed. The corner of the cover kept digging into my temple because I was resting half the book on my face to ease thumb strain. So I ended up buying the e-book version too. It’s my first e-book, so mixed feelings.
Trawling: Junk shops for old hats. I’d like to be a not-crazy hat wearer. I feel the crazies have taken all the hat wearing for themselves, which is a shame because hats used to be so respectable and discreet. Now it’s like “Look-a me! I’m a’wearin’ a hat!” This is what I imagine your average modern-day hat wearer thinks to herself before she leaves the house to go anywhere besides a wedding. Is this how it’s going to feel to read real books in public twenty years from now? Futurism bums me out sometimes.
Wanting: Time alone. Always and always. Mothering a toddler is a contact sport.
Looking: At the People magazine the girl a few rows up is reading. I’m writing this on a plane. Why did I not buy a People magazine?
Deciding: On travel plans for next year. I prefer to be spontaneous, but it’s too expensive. A friend on Facebook recently mentioned that an airline was having a flash sale, and I scored $500 round trip tickets to Paris for our anniversary. Now I’ve vowed to sign up for low-fare alerts on everything and tell all my Facebook people too.
Listening: To Dan Auerbach’s “When the Night Comes” because @AnilDash asked Twitter, “What’s a song that was not a hit (or that hasn’t become a standard) that you wish everyone could hear?” and that was mine. Good thread.
Buying: Tiny things for the baby to clench in his fists while he bops around. Ozzy loves choke-ables. He’s kept track of this minuscule banana from a Minions Lego set for the better part of a year, and every so often he offers you a bite, then pretends to nibble it himself. I find tiny dog figurines pressed in his hand while he’s sleeping. They leave little dog-shaped imprints in his palm.
Watching: Divorce, the new Sarah Jessica Parker show. Pretty good.
Marvelling: I literally learned on this trip that people in snow scenes in the movies breathe into their hands not to warm them, but to warm the air they’re breathing. Because the air gets so cold it hurts to breathe in, which is not a thing I had ever considered. I had this experience and did not know what to do, until a nice Muslim cab driver who was originally from Africa (where it is much warmer) explained it to me. Helpful. Then we discussed how he had two wives in different countries. He was the first real, live polygamist I’ve met and I was very excited. I said “YOU HAVE TWO FAMILIES! WHAT?! Please tell me all the things.” And then he did, and I refrained from asking inappropriate questions, because respect for other religions is the cornerstone upon which our country is built, and because most of my real questions were about sexy times.
Cringing: Because I said “you too!” twice to different gate agents who wished me a good flight.
Needing: A good puffer jacket that doesn’t look dumb. Minneapolis was cold AF, and I know nothing about dressing for inconvenient snow. Suggestions welcome.
Questioning: Whether I have enough spouses.
Smelling: Everyone else’s breath. And Pringles.
Wearing: Compression socks and this dress that’s actually giant cozy sweatshirt.
Noticing: That the girl next to me accepted the middle seat when some dude took her window. Then she spent the rest of the flight pretending to read while he tried to chat her up. They both speak Spanish and all she’s saying is “Ah. Si,si,si,si.” with the occasional “Claro.” thrown in for variety. Sir. Shut up and enjoy your stolen seat.
How we spend our time, and by extension our lives, is one of my favorite subjects. Tim Urban’s essay, The Tail End, changed how I think about time. He makes visual charts of a 90-year human life in years, months, weeks, and days. Then he walks through how many more ocean swims he’ll likely have, how many more slices of pizza.
Two things got my attention:
You’ll read a finite number of books in your lifetime. For some reason, this had never occurred to me. Reading an average of twelve books a year, I have 688 books left. It sounds like a lot, and also not enough.
If your kids don’t live near you as adults, by the time they move out you’ve spent 90 percent of the time you’ll have with them. Aaaaaaag! Urban concludes that it’s key to build a life near the people you love. Truth.
Anyway, go read this. It will give you that self-helpy kick where you savor things more acutely for a few weeks afterward. And then maybe read it again.