I came across this quote recently in The Week. It’s from From Why I Decided War Reporting Was No Longer Worth the Risk by Tom A. Peter for The New Republic.
I’ve often wondered about the risks that reporters, myself included, take in order to cover war. In the wake of [American Journalist James Foley's] death, these questions weigh on me more heavily than ever… Covering wars for a polarized nation has destroyed the civic mission I once found in journalism. Why risk it all to get the facts for people who increasingly seem only to seek out the information they want and brand the stories and facts that don’t conform to their opinions as biased or inaccurate?
I have a lot of respect for most professional journalists, but I can’t deny that I’d probably feel the same way if I were Peter.
The best parts of Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year by Anne Lamott:
Little by little I think I’m letting go of believing that I’m in charge, that I’m God’s assistant football coach. It’s so incredibly hard to let go of one’s passion for control. It seems like if you stop managing and controlling, everything will spin off into total pandemonium and it will be all your fault.
…there is always something to fix or do. It is so fucking excruciating just to be. Just to be still.
I have listened so attentively to the most boring, narcissistic men so that they would like me or need me. I’d sit there with my head cocked sweetly like the puppy on the RCA logo… It was like those men held me hostage. I’d think about chewing my arm off to get out of the trap so I could rush home and hang myself, but at the same time I’d need them to think well of me.
Orville, who raised an infant son fifteen years ago, says he remembers clearly how insane things get with an infant around. He said even with a mate, it’s like having a clock radio in your room that goes off erratically every few hours, always tuned to heavy metal.
On her infant son:
He’s so pretty that it’s sort of nuts. I’m sure he will be as gay as an Easter bonnet. My friend Larry gave him a naked Ken doll that Sam took a shine to one evening when my reading group met at Larry’s, and it’s totally Fire Island around here now. Sam licks and chews the naked Ken doll at every opportunity. I called Larry and said, “You’re trying to recruit my son,” and he said, “Look at it this way — in twenty years you won’t be losing a son, you’ll be gaining a son.”
No one ever tells you about the tedium. (A friend of mine says it’s because of the age difference.)
He has this beautiful hand gesture where, when he’s nursing, he reaches back with his free hand to touch and lightly pat the crown of his head, and it looks exactly like he’s checking to see if his bald spot is exposed.
I don’t subscribe to the notion that the ideal engagement ring is an inflated version of everyone else’s ring. In fact, my favorite rings are those that reveal something about the wearer. These have a lot of personality, and a reasonable price point.
Garnet Solitaire by Studio 1980, $475
R011 by n+a, $220-$440
Large Spinel Cocktail Ring from Arnold Jewelers, $325
Opal Pip Ring by Claire Kinder, $185
Vintage Bohemian Cluster Garnet and Green Tourmaline from MS Jewelers, $745
Deco Bow Ring by Erica Weiner, $975
R017 rubies by n+a, $370
1930s Art Deco Ring Diamond Blue Sapphire from Rosie Lena, $825
Round Diamond Ring & Pave Diamond V ring by Artemer, $1350
I cheated a bit on this last one, but the price is for your engagement ring and band so sue me.
Hank refuses to turn down the corners of his books to save his place, so I used thin washi tape and colorful paperclips to make him some tiny bookmarks.
They’re pretty self explanatory, but I just fed the tape through the paperclip end, folded the sticky sides together, and cut the little flag shape on top.
They take ten seconds each, so you can make new ones as they disappear into the couch cushions.
The best travel tips are always from friends, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite hotels. I sometimes plan trips around where I’d like to stay, and though I’m devoted to airbnb lately, these are a few hotels where you should stay if you ever get the chance.
The hotels on this list meet all my criteria for a perfect visit — the bedrooms are prettier and more comfortable than the one I have at home, the common areas are nice enough that I like to hang out there, there’s somewhere to soak (a deep bathtub, a hot tub, a heated pool), good coffee is available first thing in the morning, and the people who work there go out of their way to be kind.
Most of them are in California, because I love road trips, but there are a couple bonus places here too:
boon hotel + spa
If you’re heading to the Russian River Wine country, this is the most relaxing, fun place to stay. Modern accommodations hidden in a redwood forest, a central heated pool and hot tub with an honor bar, and most of the fourteen rooms have private patios. The owner Krista is a chef, she owns two restaurants in town as well, so the coffee and breakfast delivered to your door in the morning is always seasonal and delicious.
San Louis Obispo, California
I can’t do this place justice, you must go and bring as many friends as you can convince. The Madonna Inn has been around since the 1950s; it’s the halfway point for a drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and was built by a couple with a vision. This hotel is one of my favorite places anywhere, so kitschy it transcends and circles back to art. Each room has its own very distinct theme, so choose carefully from the list of photos on the site (Irish Hills is one of my favorites). The dining room, and everything in it, is pink, and there are hand-to-heaven dinosaur bones in the boulders that form the fireplace. The food is terrific, as are the cocktails, which you can enjoy in the bar, or floating in the epic heated pool overlooking the valley. There’s a live swing band every Saturday night, and I adore it. Go here. You must go.
Los Angeles, California
I stayed here by happenstance because I wanted to be close to a friend. The lush colors and quirky interior felt like Buenos Aires to me, and it turns out the owner is an Argentine. There’s a great, small restaurant on site, and when I was there the Eggslut food truck pulled up in the mornings for coffee and breakfast. (Is that still a thing? Not sure.) The hotel room was cozy and quiet, and my room felt personal, like I was staying with a good friend.
Ace Hotel, Portland
The Ace Hotels are now officially a chain with seven hotels all over the world, but their second property in Portland is still my favorite. The rooms are spacious and bright, with big windows that still open, and many have deep claw footed tubs. Downstairs, you can work in the library overlooking the lobby, there’s strong wifi throughout. The lobby is attached to a Stumptown coffee shop, so grab a cup and settle in with their solid selection of reading material. The hotel restaurant has a bar with bartenders who know what they’re doing, and I do not say that lightly. There’s a vintage photobooth, and twee bikes you can borrow, but the overall feeling is laid back. If you love the Ace aesthetic as much as I do, their sister property in Palm Springs is also dreamy.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
I should note that I’ve never stayed at Home Hotel, but spent a lot of time with traveling companions who did, and visited often when I lived in Argentina for a month. It feels just like home should, a relief from the city outside. There are cross stitch samplers in the elevators, greenery all around, and everything is set up to be simple and comfortable. Great food and drinks on site, but they also have a visitor’s guide that outlines all the management’s favorite places in town. By the time I discovered it, I’d spent weeks finding most of the places that were already on their list. Even if you aren’t staying at Home (it’s pricey), it’s worth swinging by for a drink or a snack and asking for a guide.
If you’ve ever stayed somewhere that felt just right, please tell so I can add it to my list of places to try, which is right here: travel | unique hotels.
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The poem Silence of the Stars by David Wagoner mentions that natives in the Kalahari desert can hear the stars sing. I wondered whether there was any science behind it, and came across this:
Scientists are using stellar seismology (or asteroseismology) to study the structure of pulsating stars. Star “earthquakes” do make sounds, but we can’t hear them because there’s no air to carry them. So scientists recreated the sound, which this article compares to wind blowing over a microphone.
Tonal variations help scientists understand the surface gravity and age of a given star. Some sound like radio static, others like they’re purring. Lovely.