#AnnaReadsThis, read it love it, recommended reading, what i'm reading

The Glass Castle + The House That Lars Built

You’ve read The Glass Castle, right? Right…? If not, you need to immediately. It’s everything anyone could ever ask for from a memoir — poignant, sad, thought-provoking, touching, insightful, hopeful…

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The House That Lars Built, one of my favorite design blogs, also hosts a bookclub & this month’s pick was The Glass Castle. They even created a beautiful prints & book marks you can download.

Have you seen the film version of the book that just hit theaters? I want to see it ASAP. It looks wonderful but intense, so I’ll have to wait until I’m in a more clear headspace. 😉

Happy reading & happy Monday!

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college friends, dating, friends, read it love it, Short Story Love, tales from the dating trenches

Elevators, Stairwells and Stalking: A short-lived love story by Helen

I received this in an email Friday afternoon from my dear friend Helen. I haven’t stopped laughing since, nor have I stopped thinking about her brilliant perspective on the topic. 

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(Alternative title: Why I’m Single)

Preface

Even though this story has a disappointing ending, I take pride in what it says about the kind of girl I am. The following is a tale of perseverance in the face of adversity.

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Ever since I started working at the Avenue*, I’ve noticed a guy who works on my floor. He looks quite ordinary actually, but has a kind face. Of course, I’ve had boyfriends, prospects and fuckboys crop up throughout the past four years, so I’d never taken my interest past a polite smile in the hallway. Having been single (as fuck) for nearly a year and a half now, however; I hatched a plan to satisfy my curiosity. I vowed to ask his name and then use this information to ascertain his relationship status.

One day, I chanced upon him in the elevator. After exchanging a few comments about the weather, I mustered up the courage to inquire further. His name was John*. We shook hands. Discovering his last name was easy because I knew where he worked and, like most professionals, he had a LinkedIn profile. He was an analyst, had a master’s degree and, based on his undergraduate graduation date, seemed to be 37 years old. What proved more difficult was the utter banality of his full name: John Smith. Neither Facebook nor Google yielded clues. I told myself to be patient.

Some time later, after lunch with colleagues, I stepped off the elevator and practically walked right into him. A colleague, Reba*, mentioned that he seemed to be interested in me. Emboldened by her encouragement, I decided to renew my efforts. Another colleague, Ericka*, contributed her online sleuthing skills to the task, but alas: no immediate answers to the question of his marital status. I decided to go about the task the old-fashioned way — looking for a wedding ring. I thought I’d seen a wedding ring in the past (remember that I’d had an eye on him for quite some time) but according to Bridget Jones’ Diary, one in three marriages now end in divorce. Plus, it was clear that he totally had a crush on me.

The restrooms on our floor had been under construction for almost a month, forcing us to use the restrooms one floor down. As a result, we’d all been wandering the hallways more than usual. On one such occasion, I swung open the stairwell door and there he was. Taken by surprise, I forgot all about the mission, but managed to blurt out: Hey! How’s it going? To which he responded: I’m good, how are you? To which I responded: I’m good! Immediately after this strained exchange, I remembered my mission and lamented the missed opportunity.

A week passed without running into him and, knowing the restrooms would only be under construction for so long, I decided I could not leave our next meeting to chance. I began drinking a healthy amount of water, which forced me to roam the hallways at least three times more than usual. Finally, I saw the back of his head disappear into the stairwell. I calculated the amount of time it would take him to walk back up and then I waited. As soon as he turned the corner, there I was. I scanned the hand — no ring! I made my small talk and went on my way. Thinking about it later, I realized that I’d looked at his mirror-image left hand, which is to say, I looked at his right hand. This is exactly the type of thing I would expect myself to do at this stage of such a critical mission.

Back to the Internet. I began googling his name with the few facts I knew about him. John Smith Commerce Bank*. John Smith Redbranch Los Angeles California. I learned his middle name. I learned where he lived. I learned his home phone number. I stumbled upon a wedding registry for John and Jane Smith from 2015. Now I began googling Jane Smith. That led me to Facebook. I looked at all the Jane or Jane Smith profiles associated with the correct village. And then I found what I did not want to find. She was indeed married to him. She had updated her profile picture only two months ago with an image of their wedding. The jig was up.

In the end, I discovered what I think always knew. He was unavailable. Shame on him for having a crush on me, though.

Afterword

As I said, this story has a somewhat disappointing ending. But although I could not make John Smith love me, I must say that I’ve come to love myself even more. So dedicated am I to achieving excellence in everything I do that, if lack of chill were a sport, I’d make it to the Olympics no question. Does John Smith deserve a woman on that level? Does any man?

*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

 

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inspiration, read it love it, words for the heart, writers

Madame Clairevoyant: the only “horoscope” I read

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As mentioned in last week’s Three Things (which will return to its regular scheduled time next week!), I dabble a wee bit in checking my horoscope out. But really, the one I have loved most, for years now, is Madame Clairevoyant. She used to write for The Rumplr, The Rumpus’s tumblr, then The Toast, and I’m so stoked she found a weekly spot on The Cut.

Maybe I love them the most because they’re not rooted in real astrology. But I definitely love them because they are beautifully written and always provide words of wisdom — whether they’re brought from the state of the planets or not — they’re words that help me stay rooted in the week ahead. And they’re words that are often eerily spot on.

Madame C. once wrote:

I am not a real astrologer or a real writer, and so it’s strange and great that people actually read these, that people are connecting with a thing that I work on. At first, when Molly asked me if I’d write horoscopes for the Rumpus, they were so silly—I really wish I were still as funny as this—but then before I even really realized it, they got serious

What I love the most about astrology, what I love most about really any field of knowledge, but especially the ones that lots of Serious People dismiss (astrology, magic, ghost stories, even religion), is the specific structures and vocabularies they give us for understanding our realities outside of common sense or linear time or the rules of science or whatever, the tools they give us for understanding the actual weirdness of our lives.

It is comforting and even fun, sometimes, to blame bad things on Mercury going retrograde; it’s comforting and fun to use astrology to understand the terrible parts of your own personality or your mom’s personality or your friends’ personalities. One of the homeless youths I work with likes to talk to me about how tarot is the only way of looking at the world that makes any sense to him. Everyone rolls their eyes at this, but it’s so real.

I still know hardly anything about actual astrology, though. A lot of people have really put in the time time to learn about the nuances, the complicated parts, the houses and trines and decanates and all of it. I am not there. I am better (I hope?) at paying attention to the people around me, the weird bendy logic of our lives, the emotional textures of the world. My roommate and my sister are both Leos, and they’re utterly different, but there are all these eerie coincidences and resonances in their lives. All the Tauruses I know are totally different except that they aren’t totally different, and I can’t put my finger on what exactly makes up that strange little core of sameness, but that’s where I try to locate these horoscopes.

 

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What ultimately led me to write this post in particular, was this week’s horoscope in particular. For me, it struck me right in the heart. So, without further adieu, one of my favorites to date.

Taurus: Your wildness isn’t too much: Even as it loves, a person’s heart can buck and bristle. It’s possible for loyalty to mean something other than a quashing of your own emotions, your own strangeness, your own rebellion. It’s possible for faith to be critical, and for love to challenge and protest. It’s a week to be true to your people, and a week to stand boldly on your own side, too.

 

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So, go on now, find yours here.

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#AnnaReadsThis, brilliant reads, poetry, read it love it, recommended reading

National Poetry Month // 2017

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When I’ve found myself in moments of pure heartbreak — which is to say there have been many moments in my 27 years of existence — I have so often found solace in poetry. Last year, in the throes of a wee heartbreak, I loved this poem by Andrea Gibson.

Heck, I have even found myself brought to prose as a result of particular heartache — (see this poem) — I genuinely don’t even remember putting the words down. I just remember feeling utterly numb but in dire need to write. To put the feelings I wasn’t feeling down in words.

What I’m getting at, ironically, not so eloquently, is that poetry is powerful. It’s no secret that I’m a bonafide word-lover, so this too should come as no surprise. But even for those not so “into poetry”, I’d argue there’s a poem, poet, or poetry style for them. That’s the beautiful thing about poetry.

So, when I saw this list from The Strand Book Store of “11 Writers Bringing Poetry to Life,” you best believe my bank account took a hit.

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But I need even more! What are your favorite poets, poems, etc.? Let me know! I love it alllll. 

 

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#AnnaReadsThis, books, essays, feminism, read it love it, the future is female

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘Feminist Manifesto’

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Last weekend I found myself wandering around the bookstore, as so often is the case. I was absolutely excited when I saw they had Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest book of essays, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

In it, Adichie writes to a friend who asks her how to raise a baby girl as a feminist. This book is Adichie’s response. It’s gentle yet sharp; succinct yet poignant; and reads as though it’s a letter from your best friend.

The main proposition of “Dear Ijeawele” is that feminism is a project that necessarily binds mothers and daughters, and that raising a daughter feminist has as much to do with what you tell yourself as what you tell her. Ms. Adichie’s first of 15 suggestions places a mother’s freedom and growth at the center of a daughter’s feminist education.

“Be a full person,” Ms. Adichie writes. “Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by motherhood.” (The New York Times)

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As an aunt, a once particularly conservative girl from the American Midwest, I found this book incredibly powerful. It made me face a few aspects of my own missteps and helped me reevaluate a few of my former philosophies and internalized patriarchal beliefs. And, more than anything, it helped me understand how to change my behavior in hopes of not instilling the same misbeliefs on my nieces & nephews.

Below are some of the lessons which most affected me.

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On feminism: 

“Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not “if only.” Not “as long as.” I matter equally. Full stop.”

“Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite. It is the idea of conditional fenable equality. Please reject this entirely. It is a hollow, appeasing, and bankrupt idea. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of men and women or you do not.”

15.1

On marriage:

“Never speak of marriage as an achievement. Find ways to make clear to her that I marriage is not an achievement, nor is it what she should aspire to. A marriage can be happy or unhappy, but it is not an achievement. We condition girls to aspire to marriage and we do not condition boys to aspire to marriage, and so there is already a terrible imbalance at the start. The girls will grow up to be women preoccupied with marriage. The boys will grow up to be men who are not preoccupied with marriage. The women marry those men. The relationship is automatically uneven because the institution matters more to one than the other.”

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On being “liked”: 

“We teach girls to be likeable, to be nice, to be false. And we do not teach boys the same. This is dangerous. Many sexual predators have capitalized on this. Many girls remain silent when abused because they want to be nice. Many girls spend too much time trying to be “nice” to people who do them harm. Many girls think of the “feelings” of those who are hurting them. This is the catastrophic consequence of likeability. We have a world full of women who are unable to exhale fully because they have for so long been conditioned to fold themselves into shapes to make themselves likeable. So”

15.3

On “doing it all”:

Our culture celebrates the idea of women who are able to ‘do it all’ but does not question the premise of that praise. I have no interest in the debate about women doing it all because it is a debate that assumes that caregiving and domestic work are singularly female domains, and idea that I strongly reject. Domestic work and caregiving should be gender-neutral, and we should be asking not whether a woman can ‘do it all’ but how best to support parents in their dual duties at work and at home.”

On standards and differences:

“Teach her never to universalize her own standards or experiences. Teach her that her standards are for her alone, and not for other people. This is the only necessary form of humility: the realization that difference is normal.”

Teach her about difference. Make difference ordinary. Make difference normal. Teach her not to attach value to difference. And the reason for this is not to be fair or to be nice but merely to be human and practical. Because difference is the reality of our world. And by teaching her about difference, you are equipping her to survive in a diverse world.”

On love:

“Teach her that to love is not only to give but also to take. This is important because we give girls subtle cues about their lives – we teach girls that a large component of their ability to love is their ability to self-sacrifice. We do not teach this to boys. Teach her that to love she must give of herself emotionally but she must also expect to be given.”

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I really look forward to devouring Adichie’s other books in the coming months. I highly recommend this article from TIME,  if you’re new to Adichie, as well as this TED talk. And, I am especially pleased to now know what to gift everyone in my life for all upcoming occasions. 😉

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April 2017, books, copywriting inspiration, poetry, read it love it, saw it loved it, the future is female

Three things.

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Every day I’m so blown away by the incredibly talented women in my life. (I’m spoiled.) One of the most talented ladies I know is Abby Yemm, whom I met through this very blog. (I don’t tell this blog “thank you” enough. Thanks, blog! You’re one of the best things I’ve ever decided to do!) Back to Abby, she’s hilarious, wildly creative, and she writes rad stuff. Like this piece from Domino Mag, 10 Books to Buy for Their CoversI mean, need I say more beyond, “be still my heart.”

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Balloons + poetry = one of my new favorite mediums.

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IKEA consistently has some of the best ads. I love this one about a “Couple” of Sheepskin Rugs.

It turns out the anthropomorphic floor covering, who lives in an apartment complex with its significant other (also a rug) and its puppy (a $10 step stool), is on a very special mission. (AdWeek)

 

Happy April! xx

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anxiety, dear sugar, life lessons, march 2017, read it love it, three things, vulnerability, words for the heart

Three things.

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After two months of having been without our beloved Patrick, I’m able to look at dogs again without bursting into tears… well, usually. This dog, Rusty Rodas, has an Instagram and it is epic.

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There are many things I love about Man Repeller. But far above all the reasons lies Leandra’s courageous honesty. Her life, personality, closet—all can ignite a flame of jealousy in the best of us, but that’s not her intention. You just know it from reading her words. She genuinely wants to have a community within Man Repeller. She cares. She wants you to know she’s just as real as her readers. And in a time when Instagramming and Blogging have taken a turn for the unattainable—perfect homes, “little ole papas & mamas,” and unblemished images—it’s so effing refreshing. No matter your home, your lot in life, your career, your closet… we are all humans. And being a human is hard. Why deny it? So thank you, Leandra. Thank you for your openness. And thank you for plucking this issue right out of my heart (and brain for that matter).

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I’m rereading Tiny Beautiful Things for what seems like the hundredth time. It’s just as good as the first time. And just as relevant as ever. Here are 10 of the best entries from the Dear, Sugar column (of which the book is compiled).

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