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02 Aug 12:07

Reading What Your Kids Are Reading

by Jenny

Remember that heartbreaking scene in Catcher in the Rye when Holden drops the record he bought for his little sister and it shatters into a million pieces? Or when Sylvia says she can no longer be with Dorian Gray because their love is interfering with her art? Or the deeply sad ending to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men? Wait, what, you don’t? Just kidding, neither did I, at least not until recently. It wasn’t something I thought about too much until I had middle-school age kids who had graduated to reading books that used sophisticated literary devices like, you know, symbolism. Then suddenly I found myself fielding questions like “Mom, what would you have done with Lennie if you were George?” When I tell then 13-year-old Abby that I don’t remember much about Of Mice and Men, she is incredulous.

“How could you forget the last scene? I can’t stop thinking about it!”

Instead of lecturing her on the seven million things that have cluttered my aging brain since eighth grade, I decide she’s right. That summer, on the first leg of our flight to Hawaii, I read Of Mice and Men cover to cover, and find myself weeping over Lennie’s tragic fate. I’m consoled only by Abby, who is sitting next to me and eager to talk it through. The book was way better than I remembered — truly, how could I have forgotten the ending? — but the real reward was that conversation, a genuine heart-to-heart with my daughter about friendship and loneliness.

Bonding over books is not the only reason I love reading what my kids are reading. I read The Giver and Maus, and A Picture of Dorian Gray to fill a few of my embarrassingly wide literary voids. Phoebe, a dark fantasy girl of the highest order, read Dorian Gray so many times that I lived in fear of her discovering the truth about her mother: I had never read anything by Oscar Wilde. (This as an English major, no less!) Other times, I’ll read something just to feel a little closer to them. Like the time Phoebe wrote to us from sleepaway camp saying how glad she was that she brought along her best friend Tintin. That night, out of solidarity, I started reading the half dozen or so Herge volumes she left behind. There were still other instances when I’d pick up titles — like Wonder and The Fault in Our Stars — simply because I sensed they were going to define my childrens’ era and I wanted to know why.

Is it always a hugely rich and satisfying literary experience? Of course not. No matter how much Phoebe begs me to read V is for Vendetta or even Brave New World, I just can’t get into either. But I’m pretty sure both of the girls at least appreciate the effort.

I wrote this essay as part of an awesome summer reading package (the best of the season’s memoirs, thrillers, novels, plus standout books for teens) in the July issue of Family Circle.

Related: A Summer Reading List for the Whole Family and Audiobooks for Family Road Trips.

The post Reading What Your Kids Are Reading appeared first on Dinner: A Love Story.

01 Aug 12:35

How to ask a favor

by Tim Carmody

Some very useful advice from Valet magazine (which I confess I don’t read — thanks Yuri Victor!) on how to ask for a favor. It’s step by step and super simple:

  1. Be direct with your request;
  2. Give your reason why;
  3. Provide an opportunity for escape.

This last step, in particular, is nicely articulated:

This is really just good manners and keeps your relationship in good standing. It shows the other person you respect their time and that this isn’t a guilt trip. When you ask a favor, always offer the other person the opportunity to easily and graciously decline. End your request with something like, “I understand if you can’t do this now,” or “Please don’t feel obligated, if you aren’t comfortable with this.” Say this and mean it. Because a favor you aren’t able to refuse isn’t a favor at all. It’s an order or a command.

You can embroider this with lots of detail specific to the kind of behavior you’re asking for, but the core here is pretty spot-on. There’s also a nice bit of advice for folks granting a favor, that basically boils down to “do it or don’t do it, but don’t be a jerk about it.”

Tags: etiquette
05 Jul 17:30

Hannah Gadsby's 'Nanette' Is A Scorching Piece On Comedy And Trauma

by Linda Holmes


Hannah Gadsby has brought her live show Nanette to Netflix.

Hannah Gadsby, an Australian comedian, has a Netflix special that talks about the construction of jokes, the pain of self-deprecation, and what we owe to ourselves and the people who hear our stories.

(Image credit: Netflix)

17 May 17:57

The respect of personhood vs the respect of authority

by Jason Kottke

In April 2015, Autistic Abby wrote on their Tumblr about how people mistakenly conflate two distinct definitions of “respect” when relating to and communicating with others.

Sometimes people use “respect” to mean “treating someone like a person” and sometimes they use “respect” to mean “treating someone like an authority”

and sometimes people who are used to being treated like an authority say “if you won’t respect me I won’t respect you” and they mean “if you won’t treat me like an authority I won’t treat you like a person”

and they think they’re being fair but they aren’t, and it’s not okay.

This is an amazing & astute observation and applies readily to many aspects of our current political moment, i.e. the highest status group in the US for the past two centuries (white males) experiencing a steep decline in their status relative to other groups. This effect plays out in relation to gender, race, sexual orientation, age, and class. An almost cartoonishly on-the-nose example is Trump referring to undocumented immigrants as “animals” and then whining about the press giving him a hard time. You can also see it when conservative intellectuals with abundant social standing and privilege complain that their ideas about hanging women or the innate inferiority of non-whites are being censored.

Men who abuse their partners do this…and then sometimes parlay their authoritarian frustrations & easily available assault weapons into mass shootings. There are ample examples of law enforcement — the ultimate embodiment of authority in America — treating immigrants, women, black men, etc. like less than human. A perfect example is the “incel” movement, a group of typically young, white, straight men who feel they have a right to sex and therefore treat women who won’t oblige them like garbage.

You can see it happening in smaller, everyday ways too: never trust anyone who treats restaurant servers like shit because what they’re really doing is abusing their authority as a paying customer to treat another person as subhuman.

Tags: Donald Trump   politics   racism
17 May 16:19

The Unexpected Costs of Breastfeeding

by Maggie Keller

Wait, do underwire bras really limit your milk supply??

Photo by Janko Ferlič (cropped) on Unsplash.

One of the first things you are asked after your baby is born is “Will you be breastfeeding?” It’s a controversial and potentially touchy subject. Breastfeeding your baby feels like it should be the simplest, easiest thing to do. For a while, the phrase you heard was “breast is best,” but there are so many reasons why a mom or baby might choose not to or not be able to breastfeed, so the new thing that I heard when had my baby was “fed is best,” and that’s what I like to focus on. Making sure my baby was fed was the most important thing, and it was a challenge I had to deal with early in Baby Girl’s life.

I took a breastfeeding class through my obstetrician’s office before Baby was born so that I would know what to expect and have a very basic idea of how to do things. Even before she was born, I knew I would be going back to work eventually, and if I wanted to breastfeed my baby, I would need to pump milk for her during the day. Insurance will reimburse you for the cost of a pump and a few of the basic supplies that come with it, but there’s no way that anyone could use just two bottles in order to keep their baby fed for any amount of time. I got a few leftover pieces that fit the pump from my sister, but I still needed to buy a bunch of additional bottles, storage bags, nipples and flanges, along with a bag in which to carry everything to work. I also purchased some different power adapters for different situations — a 9V adapter for using the pump in the car, and a battery power supply for emergency situations. I tried to get as many of these things as possible using Amazon’s “registry completion discount” to bring the cost down. 

  • Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breastpump Starter Set: FREE
  • Medela Breastmilk Storage Solution: $26.48
  • Medela Breastmilk Bottle Set, 5 ounce, 3 count: $12.92
  • Medela Breastmilk Bottle Set, 8 ounce, 3 count: $14.62
  • Medela Pump and Save Breast Milk Bags, 50 count: $15.19
  • Medela 3 Piece Wide Base Slow Flow Nipple, 0-4 Months: $4.99
  • Medela 9 Volt Vehicle Breast Pump Lighter Adapter: $27.06
  • Medela Battery Pack for 9 Volt Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump: $28.48
  • Breast Pump tote bag: $36.99
  • Hands-free pumping bra: $37.59
  • Breastfeeding class: $75

TOTAL: $279.32

At Baby Girl’s first newborn pediatric appointment, we discovered that she had lost a lot of weight — more than 10 percent of her birth weight — and we were asked to feed her formula exclusively for a short period of time in order to plump her up. We were given one 8-bottle package of formula for “free” at the pediatricians office, but since she would need more, and we weren’t sure for how long, we went out and bought four 8-packs of formula in hopes that it would be enough for a while. It turns out that she gained enough weight from 24 hours of formula feeding that we didn’t need most of the formula we bought, especially since at that point my milk had come in and we could pump everything we needed to feed her even if she wasn’t breastfeeding well. All the formula is currently sitting on a shelf, waiting to be donated so other babies who can make use of it. Because Baby Girl was a slow weight gainer, we made multiple appointments at the pediatrician’s in order to make sure she was getting enough milk in her belly.

  • First 8-pack of formula: FREE
  • Four more 8-packs of formula: $46.60
  • Five weight check appointments: $100 (5 x $20 copay)

TOTAL: $146.60

When we were in the hospital, the person who helped me the most was the lactation consultant. She was the one who initially assisted me in working out a plan after my little girl refused to latch — and as part of that plan, she recommended renting a hospital grade pump and using a nipple shield. I took the pump initially for one week, and then extended the rental for another month, just to make sure my milk fully came in. Having that pump was an essential part of feeding my baby before she could figure out how to feed at the breast. The nipple shield helped baby to latch before she could do it on her own, but the one I was given at the hospital got greasy after a while and would not stay in place, so I ordered a couple more online.

To help Baby Girl figure out how to eat at the breast, I worked with another lactation consultant who was recommended by my OB practice (and whose breastfeeding class I took the month before baby was born). She came to our house for a couple of two-hour sessions with me and Baby Girl, where we put together more strategies for feeding. This plan included having soothing nursing experiences even if baby wasn’t getting much milk, pumping, and using a supplemental nursing system (Baby Girl flailed at the breast and ripped it away, so was only in use for one weekend). The first session was a struggle, but by the follow-up appointment Baby Girl had turned a corner and we got rave reviews. I really should look into seeing whether my insurance will reimburse me for the two sessions, but even if I can’t get them reimbursed, it was worth having someone there to support my journey.

  • Hospital grade pump rental (5 weeks): $110
  • Lactation consultant initial visit: $225
  • Supplemental nursing system: $25
  • Lactation consultant follow-up visit: $150
  • Nipple shields: $17.94
  • Special “slow-flow” bottle nipple I bought that ended up being not recommended by the LC: $15.99
  • “My Brest Friend” nursing pillow which helped us out: FREE (this was a gift, but I wanted to mention it here because it’s really good)

TOTAL: $543.93

At around three weeks old… Baby Girl figured it out. The first times we had really good nursing sessions were revelatory. Knowing that I could feed my baby all by myself and that she could gain weight appropriately (albeit slowly) was amazing. Suddenly we had more options: where we could go, when we could go, what we could do. We weren’t tied to the breast pump or the need to carry around bottles of milk.

But even if you’re just nursing happily, you’ll need a different wardrobe. You need bras that unlatch to provide easy access to the breast, or that pull down easily at night — and they can’t have wires, because it will limit your milk production. You could probably get away with sleeping in just your regular pajamas, but I wanted something that offered easy access, so I bought a couple of nursing nightgowns that unbuttoned to the appropriate level. I was lucky to get a bunch of hand-me-down specialty nursing shirts from my sister, which weren’t really necessary, but it’s nice to have some nursing-friendly options that look cute. I ended up getting a few additional tank tops and shirts which were on sale to supplement my wardrobe.

  • 2 H&M nursing bras (which turned out to be too small): $26.49
  • 5 Bravado nursing bras (I like variety, and I don’t like doing laundry): $220.50
  • 4-pack nighttime nursing bras: $25
  • 2 nursing nightgowns: $57.90
  • 3 nursing tops: $75.52
  • 5 nursing tanks: $60.98

TOTAL: $466.39

We’ve reached the point in the story where theoretically things should be easy. But at her two-month appointment, we discovered that Baby Girl might have a dairy allergy (very common, and usually temporary in new babies), and in order to verify this, I needed to go off dairy for a while. I’m the kind of person who needs cheese, milk and chocolate in my life, so I’ve been trying to find substitutes for the things that I love to eat while still buying dairy for the rest of the family. My regular grocery store has a few non-dairy options, but for the widest selection in a variety of categories, I needed to make a trip to Whole Foods. Expensive — yes. Worth it? We’ll see…

  • Harris Teeter non-dairy items: $57.60
  • Whole Foods non-dairy items: $84.40

TOTAL: $142.00

So here we are, 10.5 weeks into our breastfeeding journey, and we’re doing pretty well. For some parents, the costs I list here won’t apply. If your baby feeds well from the beginning, if your baby doesn’t have any allergies, if you already have a working pump that you like and the accessories that go with it, and if you have nursing clothes and bras, you won’t need quite as much. Still, the point of this story is to highlight the unexpected costs of breastfeeding. People often tout breastfeeding as a way to “save time and money,” but you might not save all that much compared with buying formula (especially at the beginning). Would I go back and change how I did things? Maybe. But in the end, I think it will be worth it, and for me that justifies the costs.

GRAND TOTAL COST TO FEED MY BABY: $1,578.26 (or $21.93/day so far)

Maggie Keller has a few more weeks left on maternity leave to drink in that sweet baby goodness before returning to her library work. You can follow her on twitter @darastar.

This story is part of The Billfold’s Food Series.

10 May 05:37

This Is America

by Jason Kottke

Over the weekend, Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) released a video for his new song, This is America. If you watch it — and you should if you haven’t, even though it isn’t the most Monday morning thing in the world — please know there’s some upsetting scenes…which is the whole point. There’s a lot going on in the video (here’s one thread by LK that explains some of the imagery), but the aspect that jumped out to me is white America’s exuberant acceptance (and co-option) of African American culture and entertainment — hip hop, rap, NBA, movies, TV (like Glover’s own Atlanta), social media memetics — while turning a blind eye to racial injustice and violence inflicted upon black America. As Jon Spence succinctly noted on Twitter:

The fact that Childish Gambino’s “This is America” tackles police brutality, gun violence, media misdirection, and the use of African Americans as a brand shield, all while dancing in Jim Crow-style caricature, shows a transcendence of mere performance and demands attention.

Update: Nereyda wrote a short thread about why they didn’t like the video.

As someone very into Diasporic dance, which literally saved my life, Glover’s video misses its mark completely for me. Graphic images of mass Black murder layered over by Black dance as a minstrel distraction? That’s what y’all are getting from this? Issa no for me dawg.

(via @tsell89/status/993609185223938048)

Update: From Spencer Kornhaber’s take on This is America (italics mine):

The defining of a nation is the essential task of politics, and Glover’s definition has now been made clear. America is a place where black people are chased and gunned down, and it is a place where black people dance and sing to distract — themselves, maybe, but also the country at large — from that carnage. America is a room in which violence and celebration happen together, and the question of which one draws the eye is one of framing, and of what the viewer wants to see.

Tags: Childish Gambino   Donald Glover   music   video
08 May 14:13

The Finkbeiner test for gender bias in science writing

by Jason Kottke

In a 2013 piece, Christie Aschwanden suggested a test in the spirit of the Bechdel test for avoiding gender bias in profiles written about scientists who are women.

To pass the Finkbeiner test, the story cannot mention:

- The fact that she’s a woman
- Her husband’s job
- Her child care arrangements
- How she nurtures her underlings
- How she was taken aback by the competitiveness in her field
- How she’s such a role model for other women
- How she’s the “first woman to…”

Aschwanden named the test after her colleague Ann Finkbeiner, who wrote that she was going to write a piece about an astronomer without mentioning that she, the astronomer, was a woman.

Meanwhile I’m sick of writing about [gender bias in science]; I’m bored silly with it. So I’m going to cut to the chase, close my eyes, and pretend the problem is solved; we’ve made a great cultural leap forward and the whole issue is over with.

And I’m going to write the profile of an impressive astronomer and not once mention that she’s a woman. I’m not going to mention her husband’s job or her child care arrangements or how she nurtures her students or how she was taken aback by the competitiveness in her field. I’m not going to interview her women students and elicit raves about her as a role model. I’m going to be blindly, aggressively, egregiously ignorant of her gender.

I’m going to pretend she’s just an astronomer.

(via @john_overholt)

Tags: Ann Finkbeiner   Christie Aschwanden   gender   science   writing
24 Apr 13:10

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls in audio format

by Jason Kottke

Audiobooks for both of the bestselling Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls books will be out in June: book one, book two. The bedtime fairy tale style of these stories are perfect for the audiobook format.

Rebel Girls Podcast

My daughter and I took a car trip recently and to pass the time, we listened to the first few episodes of the relatively new Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls podcast. Great podcast. Each episode is 15-20 minutes long and features the biographical story of a kickass woman told in the style of a bedtime story…the stories are expanded versions of the ones found in the books. Here’s the first episode about computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, who led the team that wrote the on-board flight software for the Apollo space program:

The narrators include women like Diana Nyad, Our Lady J, Poorna Jagannathan, and S. Mitra Kalita, all of whom are deserving of episodes in their own right.

We listened to all five available episodes back-to-back and Minna let out a big “awwww” when I told her there weren’t any more. She’s 8, loves the books,1 and I think she’s already somewhat aware that many of the stories in movies, TV, and books are not for her (and are thus not as interesting). The situation has gotten better in recent years, but many contemporary stories are still written from the perspective of boys for boys. So when something like Rebel Girls (or Wonder Woman or Lego Elves series) comes along, she’s really excited for stories and characters she can identify with. Representation matters. I have to believe that this generation of girls having access to these kinds of stories is making a difference. Both my kids have heard many more stories about (and made by!) high-achieving women than my sister and I ever did at home or in school. Minna knows, in a way that most little girls from 20-30 years ago didn’t, that she can be a computer programmer, a world leader, an astronaut, the best entertainer in the world, a physicist, or even book publishers…anything she wants really. And just as importantly, she knows how difficult it was for those women to achieve those things, the extra effort they went through to excel in “a man’s world” (the podcast episodes about Billie Jean King, Margaret Hamilton, and Virginia Hall all make specific mention of this). I love this series…I hope they make 100 more of these books and 10 seasons of the podcast.

P.S. Craig Mod recently interviewed Rebel Girls co-creator Elena Favilli for his On Margins podcast. Worth a listen if you want to learn how the series came about.

  1. The other day, when Express Yourself was playing on the speakers in the living room, Minna said, “Daddy, did you know that when Madonna moved to NYC by herself, she only had $35 in her pocket? She said it was the bravest thing she’s ever done.” When I asked her where she’d heard that, she replied, “Rebel Girls.”

Tags: audio   books   Craig Mod   Elena Favilli   Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls   Margaret Hamilton   podcasts
06 Apr 17:38

A great list of science books written by women

by Jason Kottke

Scientist and educator Joanne Manaster has compiled a growing list of science books written by women (with a rule of one book per author). Some of the books and authors featured are:

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Biomimicry by Janine Benyus.

My Life with the Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.

Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space by Janna Levin.

The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin.

Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self by Jennifer Ouellette.

The Confidence Game by Maria Konnikova.

The Invention of Nature by
Andrea Wulf.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Code Girls by Liza Mundy.

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach.

The Human Age by Diane Ackerman.

Manaster is soliciting suggestions on Twitter for authors she may have missed.

Tags: books   Joanne Manaster   lists   science
22 Mar 16:41

An honest trailer for every Wes Anderson movie

by Jason Kottke

As Isle of Dogs prepares to enter theaters,1 Honest Trailers created a bitingly truthful trailer for all of Wes Anderson’s films, in which they ding the director for symmetry, nostalgia, whimsey, whip pans, the overwhelming maleness of his ennui-suffering & disaffected protagonists, and Bill Murray on a tiny motorcycle in a profile shot. The description of his films as “meticulously crafted awkward family fables that make you kinda happy, kinda sad, and kinda unsure when you’re supposed to laugh or not” is pretty much spot-on and the reason I like them so much.

In 2012, before the release of Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson talked about his approach to movies on NPR’s Fresh Air:

I have a way of filming things and staging them and designing sets. There were times when I thought I should change my approach, but in fact, this is what I like to do. It’s sort of like my handwriting as a movie director. And somewhere along the way, I think I’ve made the decision: I’m going to write in my own handwriting. That’s just sort of my way.

And that’s why he’s “your barista’s favorite director”.

  1. But only in a limited release, as I found out this morning. 27 theaters this weekend and not in wide release until April 13. I’d have to drive to fricking Boston to see it earlier than that. :(

Tags: movies   remix   trailers   video   Wes Anderson
01 Mar 19:17

Famous scenes from 2018 Oscar-nominated films recreated by three young girls

by Jason Kottke

Oscar Reenact 2018

Oscar Reenact 2018

Oscar Reenact 2018

Since 2015, the Storino sisters have been reenacting scenes from Oscar nominated films. This year, Sophia, 7; Sadie, 5; and two-year-old Sloane, have recreated stills from Get Out, Call Me By Your Name, The Post, The Shape of Water, and several others. Vanity Fair showcased the project and ran an interview with the girls’ mother, Maggie.

By helping her three daughters emulate the year’s most-celebrated movie characters, Storino has grown aware of how often her girls are tasked with portraying Hollywood’s many male leads.

“What started as a lark has taken on additional meaning as the conversation around representation has evolved in Hollywood,” says Storino. “In the past, it’s been a struggle to find stills that are identifiable by the female lead. This year felt much different. The future is female, and increasingly so are the films. My girls had so many strong actresses to emulate in 2018, from Saoirse Ronan to Frances McDormand to Sally Hawkins to Meryl Streep. I also loved being able to show them Greta Gerwig in the director’s chair. What I’m most conscious of now is how much imagery matters.”

I wonder if they have had similar conversations about race? You can follow their recreations on their website or on Instagram.

See also Oscar nominated films reimagined as Winnie the Pooh adventures.

Tags: movies   remix
21 Feb 14:53

Good Hair Day Pasta's Delightful Packaging

Few people love whimsical, clever food packaging more than me, and the design for Good Hair Day Pasta by Nikita Konkin is a real day brightener. Especially the fettuccine box, where voluminous swirls of billowy fettuccini stand in for epic hair. The natural color of the pasta is set off by a sea of white combined with simple lettering. So good.

Good Hair Day Pasta's Delightful Packaging

Nikita has received numerous awards for his design, and it looks like the pasta has gone into production. Available here (if you have access to It is a 100% durum wheat pasta from Italian grains and produced in the Abruzzo region. The pasta is extruded through brass dies, and dried at low temperature to preserve the fragrance and flavor of the grain.

Good Hair Day Pasta's Delightful Packaging

Good Hair Day Pasta's Delightful Packaging

Continue reading Good Hair Day Pasta's Delightful Packaging...
20 Feb 16:25

The best audiobooks for kids

by Jason Kottke

Trumpeter Swan

When they were younger, my kids spent a lot of time in the car on long trips. Unwilling to give them an iPad to watch a movie or play games, we would often spend a big portion of these trips listening to audiobooks. Some of our favorites were Cricket in Times Square, Matilda, Charlotte’s Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

But my personal favorite The Trumpet of the Swan, wonderfully narrated by E.B. White himself! We’ve probably listened to it four or five times at least. The other day the kids and I were discussing the system of Latin names for species and when I asked if they knew any of them besides homo sapiens, Ollie shouted “Cygnus buccinator!” (The only one I could come up with off the top of my head was Rattus rattus.)

I’ve also heard good things about Jim Dale’s narration of all seven Harry Potter books, some of the other Roald Dahl stories like Danny the Champion of the World, Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Hobbit.

I’m also curious about See You in the Cosmos. I’m reading it aloud to my kids right now in book form but given how the story is told, the audiobook might be even better.

Thanks to Lexi Mainland at Cup of Jo for the inspiration for this post.

Tags: audio   books   E.B. White   The Trumpet of the Swan
19 Dec 19:00

How to Make Friends

No, wait, come back! I want to be friends at you!
02 Nov 11:52

Political scientists warn: American democracy is in decline

by Jason Kottke

Sean Illing reports on a recent gathering of political scientists at Yale where some alarm bells were going off about the state of democracy in the United States.

On October 6, some of America’s top political scientists gathered at Yale University to answer these questions. And nearly everyone agreed: American democracy is eroding on multiple fronts — socially, culturally, and economically.

The scholars pointed to breakdowns in social cohesion (meaning citizens are more fragmented than ever), the rise of tribalism, the erosion of democratic norms such as a commitment to rule of law, and a loss of faith in the electoral and economic systems as clear signs of democratic erosion.

Illing highlighted a talk by Timothy Snyder as one of the most interesting of the gathering:

Strangely enough, Snyder talked about time as a kind of political construct. (I know that sounds weird, but bear with me.) His thesis was that you can tell a lot about the health of a democracy based on how its leaders - and citizens - orient themselves in time.

Take Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. The slogan itself invokes a nostalgia for a bygone era that Trump voters believe was better than today and better than their imagined future. By speaking in this way, Snyder says, Trump is rejecting conventional politics in a subtle but significant way.

Why, after all, do we strive for better policies today? Presumably it’s so that our lives can be improved tomorrow. But Trump reverses this. He anchors his discourse to a mythological past, so that voters are thinking less about the future and more about what they think they lost.

“Trump isn’t after success — he’s after failure,” Snyder argued. By that, he means that Trump isn’t after what we’d typically consider success — passing good legislation that improves the lives of voters. Instead, Trump has defined the problems in such a way that they can’t be solved. We can’t be young again. We can’t go backward in time. We can’t relive some lost golden age. So these voters are condemned to perpetual disappointment.

The counterargument is that Trump’s idealization of the past is, in its own way, an expression of a desire for a better future. If you’re a Trump voter, restoring some lost version of America or revamping trade policies or rebuilding the military is a way to create a better tomorrow based on a model from the past.

For Snyder, though, that’s not really the point. The point is that Trump’s nostalgia is a tactic designed to distract voters from the absence of serious solutions. Trump may not be an authoritarian, Snyder warns, but this is something authoritarians typically do. They need the public to be angry, resentful, and focused on problems that can’t be remedied.

Snyder calls this approach “the politics of eternity,” and he believes it’s a common sign of democratic backsliding because it tends to work only after society has fallen into disorder.

Snyder is the author of this list of lessons from the 20th century on how to fight authoritarianism, which he turned into a book, On Tyranny.

1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.

Tags: politics   Sean Illing   Timothy Snyder   USA
02 Nov 11:49

Egg-in-a-Hole for You and Your Spawn

by J. Kenji López-Alt

rotating_light world's cutest breakfast alert rotating_light

Teeny-tiny portions of food are about as cute as baby teeth are sharp (that is to say, very). This egg and toast dish is probably the cutest breakfast you can make, and it'll feed a baby and a parent with just one slice of toast. Read More
26 Oct 18:16

Amy Sedaris' New Cooking Show Is Delightfully Weird — Food TV

by Claire Margine

So! Good!

Are you tired of watching lifestyle shows that don't feature raccoon accountants and advice on how to stab a baked potato "like a hairdresser who gave you bad bangs"? Have you been looking for a spa-related use for an old stocking full of oatmeal, or wonderd how to transform a stool into a spinach strainer?

If standard cooking and lifestyle shows aren't cutting it for your particular needs, Amy Sedaris is the domestic goddess for you. Her new show, At Home with Amy Sedaris, is a natural extension of the upbeat, outrageous, and wantonly kitschy lifestyle that Sedaris reveals in her two books, I Like You and Simple Crafts for Poor People.


14 Sep 15:54


by Jason Kottke

Definitely want to see this!

Director Alexander Payne (Election, Sideways) is coming out with his latest film in December. Downsizing, which stars Kristin Wiig, Matt Damon, and Christoph Waltz, is about a world where humans are able to shrink themselves down to five inches tall.

When scientists discover how to shrink humans to five inches tall as a solution to over-population, Paul (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to abandon their stressed lives in order to get small and move to a new downsized community — a choice that triggers life-changing adventures.

I’ve been waiting on this one since posting about nano sapiens last year:

When humans get smaller, the world and its resources get bigger. We’d live in smaller houses, drive smaller cars that use less gas, eat less food, etc. It wouldn’t even take much to realize gains from a Honey, I Shrunk Humanity scheme: because of scaling laws, a height/weight proportional human maxing out at 3 feet tall would not use half the resources of a 6-foot human but would use somewhere between 1/4 and 1/8 of the resources, depending on whether the resource varied with volume or surface area. Six-inch-tall humans would potentially use 1728 times fewer resources.

I’m sure the movie skews more toward a generic fish-out-of-water tale rather than addressing the particular pros and cons of shrinking people down to the size of hamsters (e.g. cutting human life span by orders of magnitude), but I will still be first in line to see this one.

Tags: Alexander Payne   Downsizing   movies   trailers   video
13 Sep 11:45

The first ever sketch of Wonder Woman

by Jason Kottke

Original Wonder Woman

This is the first ever sketch of Wonder Woman by H.G. Peter from 1941. On the drawing, Peter wrote:

Dear Dr. Marston, I slapped these two out in a hurry. The eagle is tough to handle — when in perspective or in profile, he doesn’t show up clearly — the shoes look like a stenographer’s. I think the idea might be incorporated as a sort of Roman contraption. Peter

The Wonder Woman character was conceived by William Moulton Marston, who based her on his wife Elizabeth Marston and his partner Olive Byrne. (Reading between the lines about WW’s creation, you get the sense that Elizabeth deserves at least some credit for genesis of the character as well.) On the same drawing, Marston wrote back to Peter:

Dear Pete — I think the gal with hand up is very cute. I like her skirt, legs, hair. Bracelets okay + boots. These probably will work out. See other suggestions enclosed. No on these + stripes — red + white. With eagle’s wings above or below breasts as per enclosed? Leave it to you. Don’t we have to put a red stripe around her waist as belt? I thought Gaines wanted it — don’t remember. Circlet will have to go higher — more like crown — see suggestions enclosed. See you Wednesday morning - WMM.

From Wikipedia:

Wonder Woman was created by the American psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston (pen name: Charles Moulton), and artist Harry G. Peter. Olive Byrne, Marston’s lover, and his wife, Elizabeth, are credited as being his inspiration for the character’s appearance. Marston drew a great deal of inspiration from early feminists, and especially from birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger; in particular, her piece “Woman and the New Race”. The character first appeared in All Star Comics #8 in October 1941 and first cover-dated on Sensation Comics #1, January 1942. The Wonder Woman title has been published by DC Comics almost continuously except for a brief hiatus in 1986.

William, Elizabeth, Olive seemed like really interesting people. They lived together in a polyamorous relationship (which I imagine was fairly unusual for the 1940s) and William & Elizabeth worked together on inventing the systolic blood pressure test, which became a key component in the later invention of the polygraph test. Olive was a former student of William’s and became his research assistant, likely helping him with much of his work without credit.

Update: The upcoming film Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a biographical drama about the lives of William, Elizabeth, and Olive. Here’s a trailer:

The Imaginary Worlds podcast also had an episode on the genesis of Wonder Woman (featuring New Yorker writer Jill Lepore, who wrote The Secret History of Wonder Woman):

(via @ironicsans & warren)

Tags: art   comics   Elizabeth Marston   feminism   H.G. Peter   Jill Lepore   movies   Olive Byrne   Professor Marston and the Wonder Women   William Moulton Marston   Wonder Woman
05 Sep 15:43

Hey Ladies! the book

by Jason Kottke


The Hey Ladies! column from The Toast is coming out in book form in May 2018 (pre-order here).

Based on the column of the same name that appeared in The Toast, Hey Ladies! is a laugh-out-loud read that follows a fictitious group of eight 20-and-30-something female friends for one year of holidays, summer house rentals, dates, brunches, breakups, and, of course, the planning of a disastrous wedding. This instantly relatable story is told entirely through emails, texts, DMs, and every other form of communication known to man.

From the column, here’s some Friendsgiving planning:

In terms of NBT aka night before thanksgiving AKA thanksgiving eve, i’m sorry to say that I won’t be here. My dad bought me a flight home (yay daddy’s girl forever haha!) and I’m leaving Monday. I saw a post on Buzzfeed about doing a friendsgiving? Is anyone interested in this? was thinking we could skip the food and just go out for tequila shots? hahah I love the holidays!

I also don’t know if anyone recalls but I will NOT be going out the night before tgiving in my hometown and that is mostly because I do not want to run the risk of seeing Jacob, my high school ex. I keyed his car in 2001 and I’m almost positive he knows it was me. What’s the statute of limitations on a crime like that? I’ve been listening to too much Serial.

Oddly, both the Times and the New Yorker have run knockoff “Hey Ladies!” pieces in the past couple of months. Not so cool.

Tags: books   Hey Ladies
15 Aug 16:14

Hilarious recipe videos in the style of famous directors

by Jason Kottke

David Ma is a food artist and director who recently made a series of four short recipe videos in the style of famous directors. There’s spaghetti and meatballs a la Quentin Tarantino (my favorite):

S’mores in the style of Wes Anderson:

What if Michael Bay made waffles?

And finally, here’s a pancake recipe in the style of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity:

Hopefully round 2 of Ma’s project will include the likes of Sofia Coppola, Ava DuVernay, Spike Lee, or Yimou Zhang.

Tags: Alfonso Cuaron   David Ma   Michael Bay   movies   Quentin Tarantino   remix   video   Wes Anderson
28 Jul 17:38

Pablo Escobar’s hippos

by Jason Kottke

At the height of his power and wealth in the 1980s, Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was one of the richest men in the world. On one of his many properties, Escobar built a private zoo, complete with animals from around the world, including zebras, rhinos, ostriches, and hippos.

As Escobar’s power waned and he was eventually killed, the animals in his zoo were transferred to proper zoos…except for four hippos that escaped into the wilderness. Nature did its thing and now the Colombian wild hippo population stands at nearly 40 and could rise to 100 in the next decade.

Tags: biology   Pablo Escobar   video
21 Jul 12:05

How to safely enjoy the 2017 solar eclipse, a buyer’s guide for normal people

by Jason Kottke

Solar Eclipse Illo

On August 21, 2017 across the entire United States, the Moon will move in front of the Sun, partially blocking it from our view. For those on the path of totality, the Moon will entirely block out the Sun for more than 2 minutes. I’ve been looking forward to seeing a total solar eclipse since I was a little kid, so I’ve been doing a lot of research on what to buy to enjoy the eclipse safely. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

I’ve oriented this guide toward the enthusiastic beginner, someone who’s excited about experiencing the wonder of the eclipse with their friends & family but isn’t interested in expensive specialty gear or photography (like me!). And, again, since you will be able to see this eclipse from everywhere in North America to some degree, this guide applies to anyone in the US/Canada/Mexico.

In planning for eclipse viewing, please check out NASA’s safety notes for more information. Make sure that whatever you buy, it’s properly rated for naked eye solar viewing. Looking directly at the Sun without a proper filter can cause permanent damage, particularly through binoculars, a camera lens, or a telescope.

Note: If you’re going to get eclipse supplies, now is the time. Some of this stuff will probably be very difficult to find (or very expensive) as we approach August 21 — for instance, shipping estimates on Amazon for some of the glasses are mid-August already.

Solar Glasses

Solar eclipse glasses are essential. Right up until the Sun goes completely behind the Moon (if you’re on the path of totality), you will want to look at the crescent-shaped Sun and you’ll need certified safety glasses to do so. Regular sunglasses will not work! Do not even. A 10-pack of glasses with cardboard frames is only $16. For something a little sturdier, go with glasses with plastic frames like this 3-pack for $15. If those choices aren’t available, there are dozens of options…find some in stock that ship soon. Note: If you have young kids, splurge for the plastic framed glasses…my testing indicates the cardboard ones don’t stay on smaller heads that well.

Make a pinhole viewer. A pinhole viewer will let you see the shape of the eclipsed Sun without having to look directly at it. This Exploratorium guide should get you started. All you need in terms of supplies you probably have lying around at home: aluminum foil, paper, cardboard, etc. I suspect Kelli Anderson’s This Book is a Camera ($27) might also work if you play with the exposure times?

Apply good sunscreen. You’ve got your eye protection down, now for the rest of yourself. The eclipse is happening in the middle of the day in much of the country, in what you hope will be complete sunshine, so bring some sunscreen. The Sweethome recommends this SPF 70 Coppertone for $9. Wear a cap. Stay in the shade. Bonus for shading yourself under trees: the gaps between the leaves will form little pinhole lenses and you’ll see really cool patterns:

Solar Eclipse Leaves

A nice pair of binoculars. If you’re in the path of totality, you might want a pair of binoculars to look more closely at the totally eclipsed Sun (after checking that it’s safe!!). I’m guessing you don’t want to buy a pair of specialty astronomy binoculars, so the best binoculars are probably ones you already own. If you don’t already have a pair, The Wirecutter recommends the Midas 8 x 42 binoculars by Athlon Optics ($290) with the Carson VP 8x42mm ($144) as a budget pick. (For solar filter options, see below.)

A solar filter for your camera. If you have a camera, they might make a solar filter for whatever lens you want to use. Hydrogen alpha filters will allow you to see the most detail — “crazy prominences and what-not” in the words of a photography pal of mine — but are also pretty expensive. Better option for the casual photographer are adjustable lens filters or these cardboard lens covers: 70mm solar filter ($17) and 50mm solar filter ($13). Or you can buy solar filter sheets ($29) to make your own lens coverings for your camera, binoculars, or telescope. Quality will likely not be fantastic, but you’ll get something. Safety warning: place any filters in front of lenses or it can burn a hole in the filter (and then into your eye); i.e. don’t use binoculars in front of safety glasses!!

Note for budding solar photographers: Shooting the eclipse will be challenging. First there’s too much light and you’ll need a filter. Then when totality occurs, you’ll be in the dark needing a tripod and a fast lens. Plan accordingly…or leave it all at home and look at the thousands of photos taken by pro photographers after the fact.

Ok, that’s it. Have a good eclipse and stay safe!

Update: I removed a reference to the plastic-rimmed safety glasses I ordered because the image has changed on this item since I ordered them and published this guide…it’s now a wire-rimmed pair of glasses. I would recommend getting something else (like these or these) instead, just to be safe. (thx, @kahnnn)

Update: NASA has been alerted that some of the paper glasses being sold are not safe for viewing the eclipse. When buying, look for the ISO icon (referencing 12312-2) and for glasses made by these recommended manufacturers: American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, or TSE 17. The paper glasses I link to in this guide are safe…they have the ISO symbol and are made by American Paper Optics. (via @ebellm)

Tags: 2017 solar eclipse   astronomy   photography   science   Sun
21 Jun 17:10

Want Juicier Tomatoes? Store Them Upside Down

by J. Kenji López-Alt

food science is weird.

Our tests have already shown that with very ripe tomatoes you intend to eat a few days down the line, the refrigerator is actually your best storage option (so long as you let them come to room temperature before serving). But did you know that the position in which you store those tomatoes can also have an impact? Read More
20 Jun 17:00

Robots dreaming of flowery dinosaurs

by Jason Kottke

I need a print of this first one for my house!

Chris Rodley

Chris Rodley

Chris Rodley (who is also partially responsible for @MagicRealismBot) is using deep learning (aka artificial intelligence aka machine learning aka what do these things even mean anymore) to cross illustrations of dinosaurs with illustrations of flowers and 19th-century fruit engravings. All your favorites are here: tricherrytops, velocirapple, tree rex, pomme de pterodactyl, frondasaurus, stegosaurose, tuliplodocus. (via @robinsloan)

Tags: artificial intelligence   Chris Rodley   dinosaurs   food   remix
18 Jun 20:55

NASA’s super accurate map of the 2017 eclipse

by Jason Kottke

Using data about the Moon’s terrain from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter as well as elevation data on Earth, NASA’s Ernie Wright created a very accurate map of where and when the August 2017 eclipse will occur in the United States.

Standing at the edge of the moon’s shadow, or umbra, the difference between seeing a total eclipse and a partial eclipse comes down to elevation — mountains and valleys both on Earth and on the moon — which affect where the shadow lands. In this visualization, data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter account for the moon’s terrain that creates a jagged edge on its shadow. This data is then combined with elevation data on Earth as well as information on the sun angle to create the most accurate map of the eclipse path to date.

You can download maps of your area from NASA’s official eclipse website…I will be studying the Nebraska map closely.

Nebraska Eclipse Map

See also Eclipse Megamovie 2017, an eclipse simulator you can use to check what the eclipse will look like in the sky in your area, and what looks like an amazing eclipse watching festival put on by Atlas Obscura.

Tags: 2017 solar eclipse   astronomy   Ernie Wright   maps   Moon   NASA   Sun   USA
15 Jun 14:24

Seven helpful tips on how to be miserable

by Jason Kottke

guilty x7.

The internet is chock full of articles and videos on how to be happier. But why chase happiness when making yourself miserable is so much easier? In this video, CGP Grey shares seven tactics to maximize your misery:

1. Stay still.
2. Screw with your sleep.
3. Maximize your screentime.
4. Use your screen to stoke your negative emotions.
5. Set vapid goals.
6. Pursue happiness directly.
7. Follow your instincts.

The video is based on Randy Paterson’s recent book, How to Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use.

Tags: how to   lists   video
15 Jun 13:27

How to apologize properly

by Jason Kottke

Apologizing is as simple as saying “I’m sorry”, right? Well, not quite. In a piece by Katie Heaney for Science of Us, here are the six components of an apology from Beth Polin:

1. An expression of regret — this, usually, is the actual “I’m sorry.”
2. An explanation (but, importantly, not a justification).
3. An acknowledgment of responsibility.
4. A declaration of repentance.
5. An offer of repair.
6. A request for forgiveness.

So no ifs or buts — “I’m sorry if you were offended” is not an apology. Neither is “I’m sorry we missed our appointment but I had to drop off my dry cleaning on the way” or any other statement that’s actually just a counterargument to an accusation of fault. Don’t use the passive voice either: “mistakes were made” is a classic non-apology.

In my experience, a particularly critical component to apologizing is the “this won’t happen again” part. When you do something repeatedly and apologize each time, those are not really apologies. If you do this, you’re pretty clearly acknowledging that your relationship to the person you’re “apologizing” to is not as important to you as the behavior in question. Either stop apologizing for your behavior or work on changing it.

Tags: Beth Polin   how to   Katie Heaney   lists
09 Jun 12:45

Homemade Tarragon Soda


tarragon soda + gin!!

Not everyone loves tarragon, but I do. When you steep sprigs of it, take a deep breath over the sauce pan, its like falling into a cloud of anise, and fennel, and green-ish black licorice, if there was such a thing. So, I buy it. Not as often as chives or basil, but more often than parsley, which I purchase just about never. So, I noticed the remnants of a small bunch of tarragon was starting the slide towards the compost bin the other day, and instead of letting it go I made a quick tarragon syrup. A tiny splash in sparkling water with a squeeze of lime or grapefruit makes a favorite not-too-sweet afternoon soda. I'll post that recipe down below. But, you can also build on the general idea. Add some coins of smashed ginger along with the tarragon to steep in your simple syrup, and you've got a bit of spicy kick to play off the tarragon notes. Other ideas? Drizzle a thread of the tarragon syrup across goat cheese or strained yogurt on a cheese plate. Or over ricotta. It plays well with citrus, so you could do a little drizzle across your oatmeal (or baked oatmeal), and then add a good amount of lemon or orange zest. Or drizzle it over broiled grapefruit halves. Or use it to sweeten your lemon/ limeade this summer. I sometimes add a tiny hint to the bottom of my espresso cup in the morning before Wayne pulls a shot for me - it adds that je ne sais quoi. I'm just going to keep going. The smallest splash in a glass with a sprig of fresh tarragon before pouring a glass of prosecco is fragrant and nice. You can do an "adult soda" with a splash of gin. Or use the syrup in a sorbet. You get the idea. Use the syrup to make a soda like this, and experiment with the leftover syrup. And let me know if you stumble on any favorite uses! xo-h

Homemade Tarragon Soda
Homemade Tarragon Soda
Homemade Tarragon Soda

Continue reading Homemade Tarragon Soda...
23 May 13:07

My Breakthrough: Impostor Syndrome Was Never the Problem

by Meg Keene

"The problem isn’t exactly imposter syndrome. The problem is our instinct to dismiss women when they’re still just learning, and then to write them off more permanently when they’ve grown into themselves."


The first quarter of this year at work was something I’d maybe describe as a tornado-shit-storm. If there is a checklist of challenges you can face as a boss, it felt like I crossed every single one off the list in the first three months of the year. It was survivable, but it in short, it sucked.

In the middle of some of the worst work stress of my life, I noticed one thing: I didn’t have impostor syndrome anymore. Magic, right? But the thing is, I realized that the problem was never impostor syndrome. The problem was the patriarchy.

Who Let Me Have This Job?

You know that feeling that eats at you? Am I really qualified to do this? Why am I in charge here? Do I deserve this job/salary/title/fancy plaque on my desk? (Okay, fine, the plaque on my desk says, “What would Beyoncé do?,” but still.) Like many women and people of color, that feeling has eaten away at me at work for years, and it was at its worst when I was in an environment (investment banking, god help me), where nobody looked like me. I spent my twenties stumbling around trying to figure out what I was doing in my life and how to be a good employee in a variety of hostile environments, and I spent much of my early thirties wondering if I deserved this job I’d made for myself that nobody took seriously, and dear God who gave me people to manage?

When I think about it, part of impostor syndrome should be normal. Not the part where you feel less than the guys issued the Ruler of the Universe Crown at birth. But the part where most twenty-somethings don’t know how to do their jobs really well, and most early-thirty-somethings are still struggling to get their feet under them as they move up the ranks? The feeling of struggle that goes with that is exactly what should be there. Maybe the problem is not that women have impostor syndrome, it’s that men don’t have more of it. Because the part of your brain that wonders, “How did I get here, and why is anyone listening to me?” That’s pretty healthy. The part of your brain that wonders, “Why does nobody here look like me, and does that mean I’m not cut out for this?” That’s bullshit.

But maybe we should embrace the part of impostor syndrome that’s really just learning and growing. Because knowing that you don’t know everything opens you up to learning so much more. When you lean in to that uncomfortable feeling of not knowing, you are often able to master a new skill, whether that’s how to manage your finances, or how to do your job, or how to be a boss. The trick is that you need to be allowed the time to own it once you do grow into it.

I Run This Mother

Maybe it’s that forty is suddenly on the horizon (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN), or maybe it’s that I’ve been running this business for almost a decade (which is about as long as anyone has been running an online publishing business), but all at once in the middle of my crisis quarter, things shifted. I didn’t feel like an impostor anymore. I didn’t even care if people took my business seriously anymore (though suddenly, and possibly relatedly, people started to). I felt like I’d earned my place at the table.

I still was as clear as ever that I don’t entirely know what I’m doing. I assume—and hope, really—that will never change, because if you know everything there is to know, you’re probably in the wrong job. I am still constantly trying to get my feet under me as a boss and figure out how to successfully manage people. (Bosses in the house, you know what I’m talking about, managing people fairly and compassionately is a hell of a learned skill.) I am always facing my limits about what I know about running a business (aka, my job), and constantly making mistakes and learning from them. But still, something was different.

But for the first time, my years of experience caught up with me. When someone questioned my authority, I realized that I had a very clear answer: “I’m in charge because I’ve been doing this a long time, and I know more about it than you do.” Did I say that out loud all the time? No. But it did make me secure in the hard choices I was making. Knowing that as always, I might not get them right, but I had as good a chance as anyone of picking the winning horse, even if I didn’t look like most founders and CEOs in my industry.

Strong Enough To Bear The Children…

But here is where the patriarchy catches up with me, again. I’ve noticed that at the exact same time that I’ve started to grow into myself… as a boss, and just as a woman and human in general, the world has started telling me that I’m becoming irrelevant. It happens in a million little ways, every single day. The message is that I should slowly give up, my best is behind me. Because after all, what is less relevant than being a middle-aged woman? That was a trick question, because clearly the answer is an old woman. But that proves my point exactly.

As the men around me age, they grow into their power. They get promotions; they’re seen as increasingly relevant and important. They’re in the prime of their lives, the center of their careers. But as women hit their mid- to late-thirties, and quite possibly have kids, we’re told that we’re getting too old to be powerful. We’re past our prime.

We’re being asked to trade in our impostor syndrome for irrelevance.

…And Get Back To Business

Maybe the answer is in that shiny plaque on my desk after all. What would Beyoncé do?

Every time I’m faced with a veiled (or not too veiled) reaction to my age, and how that relates to my cultural relevance, I raise an eyebrow and think of Beyoncé. Because I think we can agree that nobody is more relevant in this cultural moment then Queen Bey. And while Bey and I come from different life circumstances and have very different sets of privileges, Beyoncé and I do happen to be very close in age.

I like Beyoncé’s older work well enough, but it’s her new work that has catapulted her into deep, culture shaking relevancy. It’s her view of married sex in “Partition.” It’s her view on the profoundness of motherhood in “Blue.” It’s her humbling dive into the heart of a marriage in trouble in “Lemonade.” On the deepness of adult love in “Die with You.” The whirling exploration of women’s friendships in “7/11.” I could go on.

And Bey isn’t just relevant, she’s also a real life boss, like so many women are in their prime years. And not the “Slay All Day, Be Boss” kind of boss that we’ve all seen on a zillion mugs on Etsy. She’s hiring and firing and making hard decisions, and owning all of it. Because, as she’s reminded us, she might just be a black Bill Gates in the making.

Impostor Syndrome Was Never The Problem

Growing out of my impostor syndrome has been great. But as I’ve shed that skin, I’ve realized there was never anything wrong with feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t feel experienced enough for the work I had to do because… I wasn’t yet. And that’s okay. It’s great even. I’d rather that we know we’re not there yet than be gifted the King of the Universe mantel by society when we haven’t earned it.

The problem isn’t exactly impostor syndrome. The problem is our instinct to dismiss women when they’re still just learning, and then to write them off more permanently when they’ve grown into themselves. Sooner or later I’m going to be a middle-aged woman, as much as that phrase terrifies me. And I’m also starting to get solidly good at my job, and I have finally actually earned my place as a wedding expert and wedding writer (the media started quoting me that way well before I felt ready to own it). But it’s not just that. I can also pick out good jeans, and nail sex, and tell you what on fleek means (and to stop using it already).

I don’t feel like an impostor in my job and life anymore. I’m the real thing. And that’s relevant AF.

Have you Broken through impostor syndrome in your life or career? If you’re still feeling like someone is about to tell the world you’re a fake, what’s holding you back? Are you scared of not being seen as RELEVANT or important as you age?

This post was sponsored by Squarespace. We are thrilled to be partnering with Squarespace again this year to talk about what it means to be a woman with hustle in 2017. If you’re looking to make a career change or kickstart one on the side, one of the best things you can do for yourself is create a home online where you can show off your work in the form of a portfolio site, an online resume, or another hub where you can display just how awesome you are. Squarespace provides the creative tools that make it easy to build your online home beautifully, even if you’ve never made a website before and have no idea where to start. Squarespace is offering APWers a 10% discount on your first purchase when you use the code APW17 at checkout. Click here to get your website started today with a free 14-day trial from Squarespace. 

Image Credit

Kate Levy for APW

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