Ironically, we are surrounded by these expectations. We think that by a certain age you: have to be married; have a certain type of job; have to have kids, not get divorced. It does work out like this for some.
When life doesn’t work out in these specific patterns, that, let’s face it aren’t necessarily rare but are patterns we see in the lives that surround us, it can be challenging. We have that Simple-Kind-of-Life-Gwen-Stefani moment.
You can feel like you did something wrong, somewhere.
It is a waste of time to try to figure out how you could have lived a life that was quite literally not possible for you (especially when due to circumstances out of your control). I see people do it all the time to different degrees. So many people are fuming at the life they didn’t have but were “supposed” to have.
I will never forget an OB-GYN who said my not having children by this age was my fault and selfish. Like I was supposed to grab some random man off the street while 23 and been like, You, right now, father my children.
I think these life expectations and pressures are often promoted by religious communities, and not maliciously. Hilariously, I find this to be true more and more these days, the ideas promoted in these communities don’t seem to match the kind of characters being cultivated in those communities. The expectation does not match reality.
I guess, all this to say, a life not lived can haunt you, if you let it. You can feel that things are off, when in reality, they really aren’t.
Life’s realities can be complex and sometimes abrasive so our soft, and at times, unrealistic desires.
Where we should rest is that place where we realize that with every step, we sought guidance. And if we lived in obedience to God, then where our feet have taken us is no accident, it is providential. Even if we are wronged, God doesn’t cease to be in control and able to turn something bad into good. But that’s the thing, it may look very different from what we expected.
Wishing for what couldn’t have been will rob us of the life that can be. A life that can break every expectation and mold and show God’s glory and goodness in a mind blowing way. Living out of pattern is not for everyone, but if it is your path, then know that it is time to full embrace it. Not wishing for what we thought would be the dream life but by surrendering to the plan He has uniquely set out for us.
When we look at the stories of Moses and Abraham, their lives followed no traditional patterns. They were mold-breakers. They were wanderers and anomalies, and sometimes things took a lot longer than what was natural. They had their unfulfilled desires, they were flawed, but they were sincere with God. God counted them as friends. Their paths were weird, long and lonely. The journey was also transformational. They walked their unique paths in faith, with God, and at the end of the insane trajectory, God was still beside them.
Focusing on what “should be” makes us miss what “could be”. We should be curious and courageous enough to take off our sandals as Moses did when he found himself in an unexpected place. God’s presence is there. We may have thought our path would be different, not realizing that where we are standing is holy ground.
There are times when we are ready for the next chapter, the next season, change. That hit me this morning, as I walked in the sticky heat and a large drop of some unknown liquid splashed onto my face, just below my right eye, from an AC above me. After quietly spiraling out and reminding myself that I wouldn’t die or lose my eye, I thought wistfully about how I am ready for autumn.
As Lydia Millen says, it’s not about wishing away the seasons, but sometimes there is an excitement in prepping for the new one. I am there. While right now we are transitioning from summer to autumn, these tips can be used for any seasonal transition. I sat down and thought about ways we can be intentional in planning for the next season. Let me know your own tips in the comments.
I am always seasonally clearing space. I like to go through my closet every time the weather switches from cold to hot or hot to cold. It costs nothing to go through things to see what you can donate to help someone else. I also like going through the pantry and supplement station to see what needs to go or what needs to be used quickly. You can also go through books and put them in local libraries or book swap boxes. It’s always refreshing to have more space, whether that is in your closet, kitchen or shelves.
Who doesn’t love a good candle? (Good to find less toxic options). A candle is a lovely way to bring atomosphere to the home. I love burning candles and that soft glow in the winter months. I don’t keep the same candles out year-round. Take some time to put some of the current candles away and bring out the scents that match the season being embraced. Scents that bring you joy and nostalgia.
I can’t say I hardcore decorate (I hope to someday). But I do think that it’s nice to switch out couch pillows, throws, table cloth and other items like wreaths, little plant displays and other things.
I also find it to be a good time to change the walls. And I don’t necessarily mean paint (though you can). I often have things on the wall or leaning against. It is nice to switch things up and replace/move things around.
“Your home reflects more than you know: Generosity and kindness are the rugs; hospitality the furniture, curiosity the objects; and originality the placement… Enthusiasm, joy, and vitality are the fragrance that fills the air.” Pamela Clarke Keogh
As you swap out your closet, it’s nice to look through your clothes and pick out some hero items and things you want to wear often. It’s nice to steam them and place them on a rack, ready to go. This also makes it so we don’t wear the same thing over and over again. (I need to grow in this area). When we dress more intentionally, we feel it, and it feels good.
Pick out some recipes you want to try in the upcoming season. Read them and visualize them. Make little lists.
Pick Something to Memorize
Something I love about previous generations is how well-versed and eloquent they were. They could recite quotes and poetry. It was a part of conversation. Why not pick a poem, a passage of Scripture or something else of meaning and exercise the mind. Memorization can be a way we can spread wisdom to those around us.
Have something to look forward to. I was listening to the Style Your Mind podcast, and the speakers correctly brought up the fact that it is a scientific fact that having something to look forward to makes us happier. Think about different activities you can do. Some don’t have to cost money. It may mean something as simple as exploring a different place, but schedule it. Have some things you are looking forward to! It will bring you joy.
I hope that when I have my own home, to pick themes or passages and write them on a little board somewhere in the house like the kitchen. Maybe you are wondering where God is and you feel far from Him, maybe you are finding yourself anxious or seeking to be more kind. It’s nice to pick verses from God’s word that remind us that He is with us and how to reflect Him better to the world around us.
Maybe have a Post-It on a mirror or have a little board, and put a seasonal Scriptural focus you can update in a visible spot. You may find it speaks to your heart in lasting ways.
All Joan Didion fans know that her estate is going to auction in Hudson, NY. Architectural Digest quotes Lisa Thomas, a Stair Galleries fine art specialist, as saying that Didion’s apartment and her things, “It all just really told the story of who she was as a person, how she wrote, and what was important to her.” (Source)
Over the course of my courtship with my fiance, he has taken us both to visit many estates (Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, etc.). The Hudson Valley grounds are always stunning, but one of the things you will find me doing during the house tour is peering at the shelves. (I am such a snoop!) I believe people’s books reveal a hell of a lot about them. Many of the old books are cloth bound. There will be a shelf with a bunch of red cover books. Some folks have books about plants, animals, insects, politics, and foreign classics.
So, of course, when Didion’s estate auction was announced and these photos were released, I started (naturally) scanning the books. What did Joan treasure? Let’s take a look at what is accessible to us.
Miró the Sculptor: Elements of Nature
Joan Miro was a Spanish painter, sculptor and ceramicist.
Artist quote: “The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness.”
Robert B. Silvers
Mr. Silvers was the editor of The New York Review of Books. This volume is a collection of tributes to Mr. Silvers for his 60th birthday from contributors and friends of The New York Review of Books. It was published in 1990. (Source) I wonder if Didion contributed…
Writer quote: “I believe in the writer—the writer, above all. That’s how we started off: admiring the writer.”
Virginia Woolf by E.M. Forster
This was E.M. Forster’s Rede Lecture delivered at Cambridge on May 29, 1941, “just two months after the death of Virginia Woolf. Addressing her life and works, Forster concludes: ‘she gave acute pleasure in new ways, she pushed the light of the English language a little further against darkness’ (p. 39).” (Source)
Collected Longer Poems by W.H. Auden
This was published in 1969. “W. H. Auden (1907-1973) was one of the wittiest and most worldly of English poetry’s great twentieth century masters. His work ranges from the political to the religious, from the urbane to the romantic. He is also, with his exhilarating lyrical power and his understanding of love and longing in all their sacred and profane guises, an exemplary champion of human wisdom in its encounter with the mysteries of experience. More than any other poet, Auden used his poetry as an instrument to study the massive forces, dramas, and upheavals of the twentieth century, and his work displays an astonishing range of voice and breath of concern.” (Source: Amazon)
Face to Face Camilla McGrath
This volume includes photos of Didion herself! This book focuses on images of cultural icons from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. Interview magazine called McGrath the “Lens of the Party.”
Image from the artist:
There is an unknown Robert Frank book in the mix. All we see is the spine. He was a Swiss photographer and documentary maker.
At the Center of the World by Jimmie Durham
“Born of Cherokee descent, in 1940s Arkansas, Jimmie Durham takes up such issues as the politics of representation, histories of genocide, and citizenship and exile. This volume collects an array of Durham’s sculptures, drawings, photography, video, and performance. It includes essays about Durham’s material choices and their metaphoric potential; his participation in the NYC art scene in the 1980s; his use of language; and his ties to Mexico after living in Cuernavaca.” (Source: Amazon)
Phillip on Goodreads said, “I am a big fan of his art – not easily digested, assimilated, or summed up. It pushes against all forms of criticism, but that’s not the point of his work, more the result of being so wholly unique. It was great to see the retrospective at the hammer museum – this book is the catalogue of that show.”
Artist quote: “I’m foremost a poet, and then I’m a sculptor and an artist, and I do other things. I’m a gardener, quite serious about it. I’m a gardener, quite serious about it.”
Declaration of Independence by Lari Pittman
This one is a catalog of Lari Pittman’s work. It was published in 2019. Didion had a thing for recently published art catalogs. Pittman is a Colombian-American painter and artist.
Fun fact: “Pittman was the singular male student within the Feminist program in the 1970s.” (Wikipedia)
Some Women by Robert Mapplethorpe
Published in 1989, this is his collection of image of women. Joan Didion did the introduction.
San Francisco in the Sixties by George C. Perry
“The turbulence of the 1960s permanently changed social and cultural values around the world. British author and editor Perry (Magic Movie Moments), who has written extensively on popular culture and the performing arts, has compiled this photojournalism series from the works of numerous photographers. Each volume uses the same format, beginning with a short introduction that sets the stage for approximately 100 clear, briefly captioned photographs, most in black and white, and concluding with a more detailed list of captions. Featured are the fashions (notably designer Mary Quant’s miniskirts), the hippie movement, anti-Vietnam War protests, college campus sit-ins, race riots, the drug scene, the pop art movement, psychedelic imagery, and other happenings. Prominently pictured are the celebrities of the era, who include political figures, activists, entertainers, writers, and artists such as Bardot, Warhol, Joplin, Twiggy, and Truffaut. For the most complete overview of the era’s defiant attitudes, confrontations, and anything-goes lifestyles and how they affected each city, libraries should purchase all four volumes. Recommended for popular culture, photojournalism, and young adult collections. Joan Levin, M.L.S., Chicago Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.”
We Shot the War edited by Lisa Nguyen
“We Shot the War: Overseas Weekly in Vietnam examines the legacy of one of the most popular and eccentric newspapers to cover the Vietnam War. With its mix of hard-hitting military exposés, pinups, and comic strips, Overseas Weekly earned a reputation as a muckraking truth teller. Time magazine called it “the least popular publication at the Pentagon.” From 1966 to 1972, the paper’s reporters and photographers tackled controversial topics, including courts-martial, racial discrimination, drug use, and opposition to command. And they published some of the most intimate portraits of American GIs and Vietnamese civilians, taken with the specific purpose of documenting the daily life of individuals caught in the world’s most grueling and disputed conflict. Through striking photographs and personal essays, We Shot the War brings viewers behind the viewfinders of photojournalists who covered the conflict and introduces readers to two extraordinary women: founder Marion von Rospach and Saigon office bureau chief Ann Bryan. Together, they fought for the right of women to report in combat zones and argued against media censorship.” (Source: Amazon)
Quote from the reviews: “Sounds like an odd thing to say about a book on a war, but it does the young men who were fighting it proud. In some instances, the young man in the photo is not known but maybe some family member will see it and remember that person.” Marion E. Morgan
So, we have seen that Didion had a thing for photographers and art catalogs. She had some involvement in some of these books. She was an interesting person who clearly liked to support the work of those around her (and she sometimes found herself as a subject). These are not easily found books. Some of these required a bit of digging. They aren’t a part of a mainstream shelf. Even the more recently published books feature images and art from the 60s and 70s. Her heart stayed there.
If someone looked at your shelf, what would they think about you?
One thing is for sure: a well read life is an interesting one.
Thank you for coming down on my own personal rabbit hole with me.
Sometimes, the bright lights confuse us. We stare at them, hypnotized. They leave us disoriented. I understand the way an animal feels when it is caught in oncoming traffic. I think we spend half of our days like that.
The better light is the one that glows. We feel it deeply. We follow it like it is the sole firefly in the night. A glow crackles– a sound like an ongoing fire or sometimes rain on the stone streets. That particular night, there was no rain. So I followed the glow looking for the fire. There was no trace of rain. There was only a dying stream of soapy water on the stone streets, heading downhill toward the only other water, the sea. The sea was dark and feroce, stirring and stirring like unsettled emotions.
There are no lights reflected in the soapy stream of cleaning water headed toward the sea. There are no stars and no moon reflected in the rainbow tinted bubbles of the stream. The clouds muffle the night sky. I am walking. I turn my back on the sea. I turn my back on the darkness. I keep walking. I hear the crackle of light and a scratching sound at a distance. I hear shutters moving. I hear voices dancing inside the dimly lit houses. Murmurs.
I hear my shoes. My boots and their thick heel on the stone. I walk toward the glow, only to find myself in a dark street. The shutters are all closed. The stone walls don’t reveal any life at all. I reach out and brush the stone walls with the tips of my fingers as I continue to walk. I walk with authority to nowhere at all. The glow has hidden itself, and then suddenly, it reappears.
I walk to the rhythm I’ve created with my footsteps. I find swagger in my steps. I stop. I look up, and there is an open window, the shutters parted like a gasp. I now know what the scratching is. It’s your pen against the paper. A paper that invites. A paper that adjusts to its surroundings. It isn’t bright and blinding like a laptop’s white blank screen, cursor blinking, begging for more. Always more. No, the paper is quiet and loyal. It is empathetic. It is dark when it is dark. When it storms, it is left destroyed. It keeps our secrets. When a tear falls on ink, it can envelope a secret forever, leaving nothing decipherable. There you are, sitting in the window with all your secrets, spilling them like they are bubbles in soapy water. The papers gathering them all like the sea.
Your heavy eyelash curtain lifts, and you meet my gaze under the visor of your dark eyebrows. I see you clearly. I see you by the fire sparks on a grill beside you. Your fish, cooking. You stand up, unbothered, leaving the paper in the window like a bookmark. You take a metal spatula and start moving the fish and something else you have wrapped in foil. I stand there watching you. You look at me again and gesture with your spatula hand toward an empty chair by the window.
A rickety old chair against the blue stone wall. I see the concrete stairs that can take me there. Without hesitation, I reach the stairs. I unzip my boots, and peel my socks off. I place my bare feet on the concrete steps and climb. When I reach the top, I leave my boots and socks neatly by the entry. I sit on the chair and gather my skirt, tucking it under my thighs.
I stare at the empty balconies in front of me, all of them draped in drying rugs, sheets and clothes. Patterns barely recognizable, as the grill light dims. It grows quieter. It grows darker. And while everything may look like it is asleep, some of us are wide awake. We are looking to spill on paper. We are looking for that comforting embrace of the dark stillness. Away from the screens, from the lights, from the noise, from the brights. Being undistracted has a way of bringing our emotions to the top.
We search for the peace we dropped like a coin that rolls downhill, toward the sea. You eat quietly beside me, and push an open foil with a yam toward me. I feel its warmth through the foil, and start peeling the layers back. There, in the stillness of that night, with the cold clean stone beneath my feet and a warm yam in my stomach, life feels real again. It feels sweet. It feels bright in a different kind of way. All of my thoughts floating back toward the sea.
I had this song’s melody stuck in my head. I only remembered a part of the lyrics, something about “missing me”. I found out a ton of songs have that lyric as I searched high and low. I hummed it to every app and device imaginable. I searched the Top 40 lists from my college days. Nothing. I remember blasting this song in my car while commuting. I closed my eyes and could see the country roads and every turn. The fog rising above the long grass under the morning moon.
Then, I clicked through some YouTube playlists. I went through Maroon 5 and Train… Also, some Coldplay. I knew it sounded band-ish. Then, I found it. My heart skipped a beat. I blasted it. It felt good. A crazy rush of nostalgia.
Now, listening to the lyrics, I know why I loved this song. The Script, thank you.
It’s that crazy, stupid, can’t sleep, can’t breathe kind of love.
I thought maybe they were moving out because there was so much noise in the hallway, yesterday. Yes, I am talking about my neighbors, the triplets. I thought maybe they were carting their sofa away. (Wishful thinking). I hadn’t heard a peep from the triplets. But today, they were back, and there was so much discord in the room that shares a wall with my dining room while I was in a WFH meeting. I then saw one of the teen triplets zoom past us in her scooter. Me, squinting like a dweeb because I forgot my glasses. (I am still not sure if forgetting my glasses made me miss something on our walk or if it made it more interesting).
I had gotten a final sale white linen dress I tried on today. It was a steal. Hilariously, while it zipped all the way, I realized that around my hips and thighs it is so tight. I cannot sit in this dress like a comfortable human. I know I can’t return it. So I guess I will wear it to something where I need to stand. If there is something I have learned about being a woman is that just because you can’t sit doesn’t mean it don’t fit. 😉
Turns out our new testing “center” (I use “center” lightly) is a kidnapper van for cruelty. These are the most painful PCRs I have ever experienced. The swab is like a switchblade. I think that swab touched my eyeball and made me cry. The savagery. *Holds paper and says is going to write a letter like the girl from White Chicks*
I filled out some HR forms today. I laughed when I thought about how when I was going to college, I wondered if I would ever know my social security number by heart. Ha. These were my concerns. But here we are. I wrote that thing like 40 times today. Also, I think this is the last time I mark single/unmarried on HR entry forms. Ahh, youth. I was worried about an ID number, when in reality, I know so much more by heart.
This scene on RHOBH cracked me up, mostly because I am #TeamVanderpump on this one. (If you skipped it, take a look. It is hilarious). First, I love Lisa Vanderpump’s desire for a church wedding. Her daughter wants her wedding on their estate, but Lisa is thinking church. The wedding planner Kevin, the main inspiration for Franck on Father of the Bride, sides with the daughter and tries to get Lisa on the same page by saying, “Let’s build a church here.” Lisa responds with, “What on earth is he talking about?” I felt that.
Wedding planning is no joke. I really wanted this process to be stress-free and enjoyable. That has always been the goal. It’s a lucky thing when you have someone helping you who knows what they are doing. The world is really different, or as Vanderpump says, backward, these days. Things aren’t as they used to be. They are unnecessarily complicated.
Things haven’t been horrible or stressful, but they have felt more disjointed than I expected. I still don’t know if the engagement has sunk in because I still don’t have my resized ring or any photos or save-the-dates. I think men don’t understand how much excitement women gather from things like that. But we do; sue us.
I always wanted a church wedding when I was a kid. That was the only thing I knew I did want, and hilariously, due to COVID restrictions, city and church leadership’s stubborn stupidity and the need to stay local, the wedding I had “envisioned” is not possible in NYC in the traditional churches. Since the church can no longer be choice ‘a’, we go to choice ‘b’, extremely classic east coast americana.
Due to the pandemic and the local city churches playing politics, I pretty much lost all respect for the local pastor who sold his soul for city money. That meant having to find another somewhere in this insanity.
I have spent weeks reaching out to pastors I do have respect for (or could have respect for) to start the pre-marital counseling sessions, and I have been met with responses such as: “I don’t have capacity,” “We don’t do that at our church,” “I only do this for couples I am friends with,” and “Maybe if I look into your eyes, I might be moved to be of assistance.” I am not kidding. This net includes pastors from all denominations and non-denominational. The only people I haven’t approached are a Catholic or Orthodox priest or rabbi.
Apparently, counseling before marriage is not a thing anymore. Just this morning (at 4 am), I wrote an email to the former pastor at our home church in FL who is God-knows-where who once ranked me on a ministry strengths and weaknesses assessment as being very blunt, to see if he would be willing to do it over Zoom. Let’s see if he is willing to take this blunt woman up on her offer. (He wasn’t wrong).
This whole, “Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress” doesn’t exist. Now, you must know what looks good on you walking in (somehow), pay a $200 fee to try on a limit of three gowns, and that is that. It has been a bizarre experience to say the least.
It’s no mystery why places are going out of business and churches are dying. There is such a general lack of care and attention toward people, it boggles the mind. Thank God for the planner who is taking care of the food and other logistical aspects. The experience with her has been lovely, so far. Things are slowly coming together. I am finding humor, as you can see, in the midst of it all.
When Vanderpump jokes in the video saying “maybe I will execute Kevin,” I laughed. This general sass and attitude seems to be like a smoke that envelopes anyone planning a wedding. I thought I could escape the frustrations, but apparently, it’s a rite of passage.
July was a month of break. I slowed down a bit, which is rare. I do have to say I am ready to get back to busy. I do love having the mind challenged continually. While I was on break, I read a good batch of books. I am currently at 64/100 books for the year. I am saving my Light in August William Faulkner book for, well, August. Crazy how this month has flown by.
I continued my Federalist Papers course from Hillsdale College (it is excellent), and stayed away from the computer a bit more. I also continued my Rachael Attard GAL (glutes-abs-legs) fitness challenge (Monday commences week 7/8). It is amazingly satisfying when you see a change in your body. I am really proud of my progress!
The heat wave has been brutal. I was blessed to get my AC situation fixed. Thanking my lucky stars I don’t live in Europe. I also found an amazing massage place. So excited to go back. I had never had a foot massage. Did you know we have little knots in our feet? Who knew…?
Back-to-school season is upon us, and that makes my mind go to fall. Maybe it is the sticky heat, but I am yearning for fall. This was always an exciting time of the year. New notebooks and pencils…
I am excited this new season includes a new chapter for me!
“God didn’t just remove our sin, pain, and brokenness—He met us in it through the person of Jesus.” God is ____, YouVersion Plan– I truly find that to be the most remarkable thing about God. He meets us where we are with love.
“Quererse es la manera de mantenerse en pie cuando el suelo se tambalea (to love oneself is the way to stay standing when the floor wobbles).” Carmen Lomana– Over my break, I read all three of Carmen Lomana’s books. I know. It may sound exagerated, but I loved each one. I have learned so much from her. She has so many self-care and elegance tips. I was also majorly influenced by her love for Nivea. I also discovered that there is such a thing as anti-cellulite cream that actually works and doesn’t break the bank. The more we live, the more we learn! When you read her books, you feel like lipstick, a bath sponge and some Nivea. (Unfortunately, I think her books are only available in Spanish).
“And lend your voices only to the sounds of freedom. No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from. Fill your lives with love and bravery and you shall lead a life uncommon.” Jewel– I saw this quote in an email newsletter from the brilliant Beth Kempton. I am getting ready to do her Summer Writing Sanctuary for the third year in a row. My favorite part is, “No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from.” Wise words.
“The secret of it all, is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment… to put things down without deliberation… without worry about their style… without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked the way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote, wrote, wrote… By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught.” Walt Whitman– A reminder to write your heart out. And if writing is not your thing, find your mode of expression, and do it with courage.
“A different language is a different vision of life.” Federico Fellini– In my studying of 8+ languages over the years, I have found this to be so true. Language is life philosophy.
“A sense of humor is the main measure of sanity.” Hunter S. Thompson
“I want the truth. That’s really my biggest obsession in the world. It’s just the f****** truth.” Johnny Depp (Source)
“There are prayers in the Scriptures– in the books Moses wrote and especially in Psalms–where I cringe, half expecting lightning to strike the person dead. But it doesn’t. In fact, God seems to love that kind of raw, uncut prayer, skirting the line between blasphemy and desperate faith. He’s not nearly as scared of honesty as we are.” John Mark Comer
“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” George B. Shaw
“If you gained nothing by dealing with someone, what can you lose by leaving them alone? Your peace is priceless.” Steve Harvey
“Freedom for Israel meant freedom for others.” Jeffrey Rosario
“We live between D-Day and V-Day. Between Jesus’ first coming to land the decisive blow and His second to end evil for good. And in the meantime, our job is to stand in that victory. To hold our ground. To cooperate with heaven’s invasion of earth.” John Mark Comer
“Persuasion—the purpose of argument—is replaced with public shaming. Moral complexity is replaced with moral certainty. Facts are replaced with feelings. The rule of law is replaced with mob rule. Ideas are replaced with identity. Forgiveness is replaced with punishment. Debate is replaced with disinvitation and de-platforming. Diversity is replaced with homogeneity of thought. Inclusion with exclusion. Excellence with equity. In this ideology, disagreement is recast as trauma. So speech is violence.” Bari Weiss
“When we humans commit idolatry– worshiping that which is not God as if it were– we thereby give to other creatures and beings in the cosmos a power, a presteige, an authority over us which we, under God, were supposed to have over them. When you worship an idol, whatever it is, you abdicate something of your own proper human authority over the world and give it instead to that thing, whatever it is.” N.T. Wright
The importance of small pleasures. I am someone who really believes in cherishing the small.
Famous immigrants discuss what they love about America.
The growing phenomenon of people regretting having children. I find many people of my generational bracket express that children have ruined their lives, which has been pretty apalling to hear. Children are seen as inconveniences that destroy marriages, lives, and careers. When did we start thinking like this?
Why this professor (and many others) are giving up tenure in American universities.
“Today, we face the hard truth that none of it was justified — and, in doing that, uncover a precious lesson.
It was a quick slide from righteousness to cruelty, and however much we might blame our leaders for the push, we’re accountable for stepping into the trap despite better judgment.
We knew that waning immunity put vast numbers of the fully vaccinated on par with the shrinking minority of unvaccinated, yet we marked them for special persecution. We said they hadn’t “done the right thing” by turning their bodies over to state care — even though we knew that principled opposition to such a thing is priceless in any circumstance. […]
And so it was by the willful ignorance of science, civics, and politics that we squeezed the unvaccinated to the degree that we did. […]
But betting against them has been a scathing embarrassment for many of us who’ve now learned that the mandates only had the power we gave them. It was not through quiet compliance that we avoided endless domination by pharmaceutical companies and medical checkpoints at every doorway. It was thanks to the people we tried to tear down.”
Kat-Von-D decided to throw out her witchcraft books stating: “But right now, it’s never been more clear to me that there is a spiritual battle taking place, and I want to surround myself and my family with love and light.”
People I am intrigued by:
Howard Marks: I was listening to a YouTube video and an ad came up. It was Howard Marks in conversation with Goldman Sachs. He was so engaging I listened to his entire talk for 40 min, and didn’t skip the ad. I wanted to share it here.
Carmen Lomana: I saw her in a photo and thought, What elegance! Then, I watched a bunch of her interviews and read all three of her books. She is a wise woman who has a lot of wisdom to impart. I am grateful I found her by chance.
I hope you are staying cool, eating ice cream and getting ready for the new chapter that awaits us soon. Autumn is on the horizon, but August is closer still.
“A man goes where he wants, when he wants,” Daniel Castellano says on The Mindy Project when standing in line for the 100th time at the DMV to try to pass his driving test. The United States is filled with open space. In 97% of this country, I would say you need to have a car to get by.
While a car is a necessity, it is a right of passage. What do you do in the middle of your teenage angst? You study to pass your permit exam. I got my permit at 15 because I was signed up to take Driver’s Ed, the only class where I cried (in my life). I felt the pressure. Sweet Georgia peaches, the amount of cones I drove over.
The driver’s license holds a specific place in the American experience. I am ignorant of any other country where driving is such a big deal. Hell, we write songs about it. I think the idea of driving has influenced American music a lot. Anyone else blasted Journey, The Eagles or Chicago in the car? Nothing beats it. Nothing is the same. Windows down. Drive through a rural place with country music on. You will never feel it more. If you have lived here, you have stared out the window like you are in a music video. Don’t even tell me you haven’t.
Just recently, Olivia Rodrigo brought us a Driver’s License ballad. Here is this teenage girl, driving past her old boyfriend’s house. It’s that emotional car moment we can all relate to. I am convinced driving is the cheapest form of therapy.
Sunday drives are a thing that belong to American history and also American Wealth (see 1903 and then the 1950s). After dad worked all week and mom ran that household to perfection, what would the American family do? They would pile into the car on Sundays and just drive. There was no particular destination in mind. Maybe it was just to drive through the neighborhood or get ice cream. (More on Sunday drives here and here). When life got busy, we knew how to pause and be with the ones we loved most. (Some people started doing drives again in the pandemic, but you can imagine that not many people are taking Sunday drives nowadays due to gas prices).
Cars would take you to drive-in theaters, drive thru restaurants, and to other states. As someone who grew up in a car world, we took a bunch of road trips. Piling into the car meant going to camp with a church group or visiting family in another city. When we lived in Michigan, we would visit my grandfather and great grandmother on weekends in a city just north of us. I spent many a Saturday night in the back of a car. I saw so much of this country through the back of a car. Open highways, sometimes covered in snow, the streetlights lining and lighting the way, mountain side houses in North Carolina, the ocean from tall bridges in Charleston, orange groves and retention ponds in Central Florida.
Cars are accessible. I have walked through many housing projects due to the nature of my job. You can find some nice cars parked around the projects. Even what is considered the poorest person on the ladder can have a car. There are American icons who slept in a car– see Steve Harvey.
Cars shape our society, and more importantly, cars shape American youth. Whether your parents get you your own car, or you work to buy your own or you simply borrow your parents’ car, cars afford(ed) us independence. An independence I am not sure many other young people know abroad. Sure they can take a metro or train somewhere, but can they drive across the country, music blasting, with one too many friends stuffed into the back shoving fries in their faces…? I am not sure. Even still today, when one looks at Instagram accounts from around the world, it is obvious cars do not hold the revered status they hold here.
Cars shape the stories we tell. See Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, documenting his drug riddled road trip to Las Vegas with his attorney.
Before I learned to drive (and even at times after I had my license), I was a co-pilot. I had a giant atlas on my lap. If you need a map read, I am your girl. I am good at maps. I did have my fair share of MapQuest maps printed, as well. GPS came much later in my life. Maybe late high school, and then college. I still don’t understand how I am supposed to know which turn is “200 ft” from me.
I went to a high school where they had a parking lot for student vehicles. The spots closer to the school were for the top Seniors of their class. I am not even kidding. This sounds foreign to some people. Also sounds foreign to some who grew up in large cities like New York.
Cars are sort of a protagonist in the American teen’s journey to finding oneself. I think we can all look back at an experience in our late teens or twenties where we had a life-changing or emotional moment in a car. I am not even being dramatic. I know I did. What do you think all these movies are about? You were either going somewhere, running from someone, or some even lost their virginity in the back of a car.
Take it from someone who had a car and now doesn’t, the loss of independence sucks. You are crammed in trains with dangerous characters, you have to literally drag your groceries from the supermarket back home or you depend on others or an Uber to go to certain places or move things of a certain size. It is draining. I look forward to having a car again, someday.
This independence and ability to explore are part of American Wealth. And can I also say one thing? The ability to have a teen angst moment is such a first world thing. When you are in survival mode, there is no time or energy to go through mini frivolous crises. The opportunity to be edgy and obnoxious is a very privileged thing. I grew up in a bracket of years that celebrated angst. SeeThe OC on TV.
We loved Alloy and dELiA*s clothing. It was all funk, shiny boots, mohair sweaters and low rise jeans with a suede tie up instead of a zipper. Claire’s was way edgier. I mean it always had pink glitter frames, but we had the chokers, “cute by psycho” tops and terry wrist bands.
I adored the edgy style. I was not preppy and honestly couldn’t afford to be dressed in Abercrombie & Fitch. I loved Ashlee Simpson’s style when she came onto the scene. And yes, I wore the black nail polish. I haven’t since.
I have noticed that some teen icons today copy the style many of us had or wanted to emulate in the late 90s/ early 2000s.
I mean, look at Olivia Rodrigo’s style. This is my childhood stuff (it really all does come back). Look at the shoes, the hairstyles, everything– I smiled when I saw this.
Even the music is starting to sound like what was on the radio in junior high. GAYLE’s music video abcdefu is like a blast from the past. This is 100% inspired by the early 2000s. And yes, there is a car in the music video (of course, which is such a symbol and reminder of the place the vehicle has in our lives). She is a Texas girl, and hey, this level of teenage angst shot with a camcorder vibe is a reflection of American Wealth. I leave you with her early 2000s vibe jam. It looks like something we would have acted out in 2001, except we would never have been allowed to say such things. Kids, these days.
It’s 2004. For Christmas, I get the new Paris Hilton fragrance with a black quilted handbag that has a little compact in it, and it has the name “Paris Hilton” embroidered into it in bright pink. The greatly coveted and cherished gift set.
If you were a teen in the early 2000s, you know the level of celebrity Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie had. Both icons in their own right, more widely known for The Simple Life.
So, I wasn’t allowed to watch this show (and I know why lol), but I would find little clips on the baby internet, back in the day. (Remember when you got internet through that cable that had to be in the wall?) What I gravitated toward the most was their style. Both quickly became known for their smart humor while playing dumb, large sunglasses (which I found, and still to this day, find glamorous), velour tracksuits, and phrases (“Loves it” and “That’s hot!” being among the most popular).
Years have gone by. Both are elegant business women, but I love that when I look at them, I still catch glimpses of their eclectic flair. You still see * them *. Nicole Richie is married and has cute kids and a thriving business.
Paris Hilton has followed no one’s timeline, and got married in 2021 at the age of 40. She sings, she sells, she DJs, and she keeps coining phrases #sliving (slaying+living). She has also been an advocate for bipartisan issues dealing with children, abuse and education.
Paris Hilton came back into focus for me through a special collab from Dolls Kill x Powerpuff Girls. Here is the story: I had seen this cute Powerpuff Girl sweater that filled me with so much nostalgia. I decided I was going to get it, but then I thought, Nah, I am too old. Then, days later as I was searching it again (I clearly kept thinking about this sweater), I saw Paris Hilton wearing the same sweater (the one I talked myself out of), and I was like, Of course. Ha! Great minds think alike. (Except she went for it without hesitation).
I was a HUGE Powerpuff Girl fan as a kid. I mean here are three strong cuties who don’t go to bed until they have saved the world. (Life motto, anyone?) Their message is service, and we are stronger together. My favorite was and is always Buttercup.
Spoiler alert: I got the sweater (it will join my “Loves it” sweater, which I wore throughout the height of the pandemic).
The post isn’t about the sweater(s). It’s about not forgetting the little pieces that make us who we are (it can be tempting to fit into a box). Remembering the things that make us smile and remind us of childhood. I think seeing Paris in it not caring what anyone thinks reminded me of how important it is to still have fun, even as we get older. * Especially * as we get older. It’s the attitude. Even seeing Paris Hilton was nostalgic. I told my dad about the sweater, and he said to me, “One is NEVER too old.” I’ll try to remember that.
No matter what stage in life we are in, let’s keep sliving. Loves it.