Something about the start of a new season always gets me a little restless and a lot inspired, and lately I’ve been drawn to all things blush. It just feels so summery to me — bright, quirky interiors, sun-kissed cheeks, cotton candy, sandy shores, Popsicle-stained lips, juicy watermelon… I could go on and on. Here is some blush-hued inspiration for you going into the weekend, while I ponder what little rearrangements I might make around the house for summer. Enjoy!
Somewhere between two days and two months ago (time has basically ceased to have meaning or proper flow these days, amirite?), I had the privilege of enjoying a conversation between Samantha Irby and Jia Tolentino. My Jia fangirl status was cemented a while ago (as exhibited here and here), so it was extra fun to hear her interview an author live. And someone as hilarious as Samantha Irby? Thank you, Free Library of Philadelphia! Razor-sharp wit combined with the intimacy of a chat between friends made for a delightful listen. I hit “purchase” on Irby’s most recent book before the chat was even finished.
Wow, No Thank You is one of those books that manages to deal with racism, classism, sexism, sexual orientation, body issues, and and number of other -isms with such a deft and humorous touch that you don’t even realize it isn’t pure brain candy until after you’ve put it down for a bit. Irby is hilariously blunt, occasionally raunchy, and always painfully, amazingly observant. Why do we women feel pressured to buy cream specifically for our necks? If your family never had the privilege of owning a house, does gutter maintenance magically find it’s way into your conscience when you sign a mortgage? Are Hot Pockets and self-care really mutually exclusive? Why waste energy on that person who hates you, when they realistically would add nothing of value to your life even if they did like you? Can anyone utter the phrase, “are you familiar with my work?” without feeling painfully awkward about it? Questions and answers to laugh at and ponder and nod along with abound in this collection of laugh-out-loud essays. Irby also provides an excellent annotated playlist, for those of you hungry for late 1900s nostalgia mixed with a heretofore unmatched level of hilarity.
In a nutshell, Samantha Irby is one funny lady, and you should buy her book immediately. “Because we live in a fiery hellscape,” to quote her directly, and we need all the clever hilarity we can get. And this hilarity even comes with a dose or three of contemporary awareness, so you can feel virtuous while you indulge. You’re welcome, and enjoy.
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Almost 2 years ago, my very dear friend Catherine lost her father to suicide. Ever since then she has been adjusting to her new normal with a quiet strength that has left me in awe. Recently she reached out with some reflections and insights she’s gained in the months since his passing, and has kindly consented to me sharing her story here. I hope you find her grace in the face of trauma as inspiring as I do, and perhaps some of you can find solace in knowing you are not alone. Thank you, Catherine Wehrey-Miller, for your courage and generosity.
My life ended on Wednesday, August 22, 2018 at approximately 8 PM.
At that moment, I was born as a version of my prior self, forever living in a world where I now say, “My father put a gun in his mouth and ended his life.”
One of my first reactions was hating him for making this part of MY story, part of who I would be, forever a person whose father killed himself. I fought my new life and my new narrative for so long. I wasn’t ready for my former life to be over and my new one to begin. I survived trauma in the past and never felt as I did at that moment; I previously went to therapy, learned from my trauma, and moved on. But the suicide of a parent is different. It is described as “a personal and interpersonal disaster.”1 The word “disaster” is a strong one. It conjures up images of earthquakes and fires, chaos, destruction, and ruins.
Now, almost two years later, I know that my father’s suicide fundamentally changed me. My center of gravity shifted in a big way. What I thought I knew, I realized I didn’t. My whole life now feels like one confusing reality of “did that really happen?” I will be forever asking, “Why?” “Why did he do this?” And who was he, really? Did I ever really know him?
I can’t watch a suicide by gunshot on TV or in a movie anymore. I have to look away. It’s unfortunate that it took this experience for me to realize that far too many suicides are shown in the media. They hurtle me back to that moment when my mother called me and said, “He’s dead. He shot himself.”
I now have an utter loathing for anyone who carries a gun or believes in his or her inalienable right to own one. My depressed and disturbed father walked himself into a store and bought one. He kept it in the glove compartment of his car, took it out to the desert and just… spent time with it. Like bonding with a dear friend. And I never knew.
I’m suddenly more preoccupied with death and have an intense need to identify what happened to my father after his heart stopped beating. I want to know if he suddenly became nothing, a complete ceasing of his mind, body, and soul. Did he wake up in another place, a lit world where that light engenders an astounding happiness that we cannot even begin to fathom?
I’ve retreated into myself because no one close to me has lost a parent to suicide. My shell is my usual friendly, contented self… and I am content with most things. I have a wonderful husband and friends, a roof over my head, and a paycheck that allows me to travel.
But underneath, I am an intrinsically different person. I am a human being no longer standing upright, but forever slightly lop-sided, slightly off balance. I view people differently, tolerate less bullshit, and find it difficult to forgive and forget. My frequent anger and frustration have developed into something not wholly like everyone else’s. It’s more introspective and has a certain degree of beauty, because it’s filled with a love towards my father that can’t go anywhere. My love is trapped inside me where it fuses with anger and grief to produce something new that will never quite be familiar to me.
With this second life comes the necessity to familiarize myself with the unfamiliar, find balance in my off-balanced reality, and engineer something brand new from the ruins of a disaster. Dad, whoever you were, wherever you are, I hope you’ll be proud.
1 Shneidman, E.S. Foreword. In: Survivors of Suicide (Cain, A., editor. , ed.). Springfield, Ill.: Charles C Thomas, 1972.
Essay and graphic courtesy of Catherine Wehrey-Miller. You can follow her journey at Memories of Dad.
This week has been hard. Another man is dead for the crime of being black. George Floyd was killed by a police officer, and Minneapolis is reeling, seething, hurting. A CNN crew was arrested and detained last night by Minneapolis police as they reported on the protests, despite their every effort to cooperate and do the right thing. How can we be the home of the free? It is not freedom if all of us cannot walk safely. It is not freedom for our press to be locked up without cause. It is not freedom to be killed for the color of one’s skin.
This is so beautiful and so heartbreaking. Thank you, Keedron Bryant, for sharing your song.
Over the weekend I took my older dog to the vet for some blood work, and as I waited in the car, a young-ish gentleman parked a couple spaces from me. He spent several minutes getting his wheelchair out of the car and then easing himself out and getting himself situated. All to take his little chihuahua to the vet early on a Sunday morning.
Open car door and twist around, pull out wheelchair from behind driver’s seat, unfold and assemble. Stop and rest. Lean out to straighten it. Pivot and ease out of the car into the wheelchair. Put on mask and adjust it. Take a deep breath. Tell pup to stay in the passenger seat, that daddy is coming around the other side. Close door and wheel around, retrieve little pup from other side of car, settle pup onto lap, wheel back around and go up ramp to get to the office door. Pull door open and prop it with wheel while wheeling inside one-handed, deftly and with ease.
I was struck by a wave of gratitude as I watched him. Gratitude for good people quietly going about their lives. Gratitude for responsible and kind pet owners. Gratitude for my own imperfect body. Gratitude for another day.
Why yes, it is awfully difficult to tell what day it is anymore. Friday? It is? Oh good!
Not that I have ever been hugely willing to sacrifice comfort for fashion, but working from home for six weeks has brought on a whole new level of expectations. Tight waistband digging in? No thanks! Shoes that require anything more than nudging my feet forward to put them on? Nah. That being said, I do still have video chat meetings to attend and fellow Target shoppers to stay 6 feet away from, and there is no rule that says comfy can’t also be pretty. Besides, I feel so much better when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror on my bazillionth trip to the kitchen for quarantine snacks more water if I wear an “outfit.” It feels like a nice little treat for myself to wear something I’ve chosen, rather than whatever sweatpants are closest to my hand when I get out of bed (although there are also certainly those days, too!).
Here are the makings for a hugely comfy, very casual work-from-home Friday:
This sweet onyx heart necklace would make me smile every time I put it on.
Today I am hitting a personal little blogging milestone of 200 posts, and with all the weirdness that is going on, I thought maybe we could just chat. May we? I’d love to.
I started using Prose hair care several weeks ago. You know, kind of right after we all wound up sheltering in place and wearing nothing but sweatpants? I LOVE my new hair regimen and this is not at all a sponsored post but hit me up, Prose, your stuff is amazing, but please let me say my fine and thin but also curly hair has never looked better with such minimal styling. And you know what? I am a little bit bitter within my I’m-so-lucky-to-not-be-sick cocoon that no one gets to see my cute bouncy hair because we are all staying the eff home to flatten the curve and keep our fellow humans safe. Zoom meetings don’t count, I’ve decided. We are all so grainy looking via video chat that my hair could be a frizz ball and I could probably still look mostly decent. The one thing I still do on a daily basis is put on lipstick, because that DOES show up on Zoom, and also I feel put together and much less like a zombie when I do. But I feel guilty that I feel bitter.
Really, we are terribly lucky. My husband and I can both currently work from home. We are healthy and trying to stay that way, staying home and only venturing our to walk our dogs and pick up our groceries from the front step. Oh, and to buy a bag of coffee every week or so, masks donned and properly secured. But what a time to be alive. My goodness. Our generation is currently wading through our second “once in a lifetime” economic crisis. We exited college and grad school just in time for the 2008 recession, failed to get jobs that paid anything decent even though we were fed the American Dream of bootstraps and college and careers to be proud of, and then have been half-walking, half-crawling towards financial solvency ever since. Now that most of us have finally gotten jobs, we have crashed headlong into the COVID-19 pandemic — with very little savings, moderate job security if we are very lucky, and rent to pay because none of us have been able to even dream about mortgages, considering our longstanding lower-than-average pay and high-enough-to-crush-your-spirit student loan payments. So where does that leave us? Working from home if we are lucky, filing for unemployment if we are less lucky, and urging our aging parents to please please please stay home, because pandemic. What a time to be alive, huh?
There are so many emotions for us all to sift through right now. Gratitude. Despair. Grief. Fear. Compassion. Anxiety. More gratitude. We do our groceries on an app and tip or delivery drivers well as they risk themselves to make a living. We donate masks and don our own, ache for the sick and simultaneously ache for anything we can call normalcy. It’s such a tough time. I’ve been thinking a lot about stress and suffering. How we all have loads to bear. The news felt like it was crushing me, an onslaught of constant bad news at all hours of the day, so I am learning to limit that consumption. I read the news, just not all day every day. And I have been reminded by a dear friend that just because other people are suffering doesn’t mean I have to feel like I am not allowed to feel bad. Also, allowing myself to suffer doesn’t do anyone else any good. Put your own oxygen mask on, girl, and then you can help others.
In short, I’m trying. Me and my bouncy curls and my tight chest full of anxiety keep getting up every morning and doing our best. It’s really all anyone can ask for right now, right? I am not a nurse, not a first responder, not a medical manufacturer, but I can stay home and help those heroes have the best shot they can against this virus. I can donate masks and treat those around with me respect and compassion, and also allow myself room to be sad that this is the world we live in right now. We are not working from home, we are trying to work from home while a pandemic rages around us, desperately trying to be productive while desperately trying to survive, okay? Maybe it sounds trite by now, but take care of yourself, I’ll try to take care of myself, we’ll take care of others as we are able, and we’ll make it through this. Trust.
As the days continue to blur into each other, I thought I would share some things that have stood out to me amidst all the sameness of sheltering in place. It is such a strange clump of feelings we are experiencing — gratitude to be working from home, concern over friends and loved ones, guilt over never being “productive enough,” tiny joys found in a daily homemade latte or a dog nuzzle midday, and a foreboding sense of anxiety suffusing everything (mostly) under the surface. It’s a relief to turn all that off even for a little while, so please enjoy!
As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc all around us, I was reminded of this thoughtful article from The Atlantic from 2018. It rings just as true as it did then. If you are a young child, be comforted by looking for the helpers. If you have the autonomy and ability to, be a helper.
Clare V. is having an excellent promo for Mother’s Day. Now through 4/26 spend $200, and get a freewebbing strap with code FREESTRAP. Even better, 10% of all proceeds go to Every Mother Counts in support of safe pregnancy and childbirth for every mother, everywhere. I have been eyeing her adorable Midi Sac for ages and finally took the plunge, along with this excellent Masculin Féminin strap for a nice graphic punch.
I’m still “nesting” now that we are home so much more, and currently I am focused on small tweaks to make our kitchen feel more pulled together. This retro little microwave couldn’t be cuter.
Speaking of home decor, I am crushing hard on Nicole’s sweet pink Stardew Valley-inspired kitchen. I’ve been playing quite a bit more of late, and I think I might be ready to dive into some modding for this game — especially if I can create a kitchen even half this cute!
And for a tiny dose of levity, here’s a video explaining the pandemic to one’s past self. Ah, to remember the good old days… four months ago.
Take good care of yourselves, and (at least try to) have a relaxing weekend!
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Sustainable, zero waste, closed loop — plus stylish and oh-so-comfy? Please meet For Days, a clothing company I love for their excellent basics as much as their vision and ethos.
For Days offers a line up of tees, tanks, sweats, pants, and dresses that are all 100% recyclable, made in a closed-loop system, recycled with a waterless chemical-free process, shipped in recycled and recyclable packaging, and 100% of their transportation is carbon-neutral. Oh, and their clothes? They are fantastic.
Have you ever been on the hunt for the perfect tee? Soft and easy, fitted but not too tight, good drape but not see-through? For Days has a great selection of fits, and you can try several of them at the same time to see what works for you. I found my tee holy grail in their Daily Crew, and my husband is wearing his Light Crew tees on repeat — they are just that comfortable.
Wear them so much you’ve worn them out? Or suddenly hate the color you’ve chosen after wearing it incessantly? No problem! Send back your worn out tees to be recycled, and you get a discounted swap price on your replacement. Planning a serious closet clean-out while stuck at home? They have a solution for that, too! Fill their Take Back Bag with clean old clothing (of any brand) to be recycled, and you get the swap price on new items you choose to purchase.
As if that wasn’t enough amazingness for one company, they are making masks under their For Healthier Days initiative. You can buy 5 for yourself and donate 5, buy 5 for a loved one and donate 5, or just donate 10 outright for only $25.
I feel good every time I wear my For Days tee shirts. They are soft and I always feel like I look good. Doing good while I look good shouldn’t be quite so revolutionary, but I love this company for it, and I hope you do, too!