Links: Today’s Hot Topics SL 764

This president has done a lot of crappy stuff over the past two years, but I think dooming the Kurds to Turkish genocide should top that list.

What do we think about the Matt Lauer story? Who do you believe? He said. He/she said.

Interesting article about Cory Booker. It’s more positive than the title implies. It’s hard to get attention, when the gatekeepers aren’t impressed. Right now, I think this fight is Warren’s to lose.

AOC’s haircut. Please. The amount that she spent on her haircut is totally average for color treatments. As we talked about last week, these expectations of self-maintenance is commonplace.

One of my favorite articles that I wrote for The Atlantic was about the demise of Sweet Briar college, which ended up rebooting itself with massive donations from its Southern belle alumni. Since writing that article, dozens of colleges have closed. Tiny SLACs are looking for ways to keep their doors open.


The Oldest Thing in My House #2 – Books

Probably the oldest stuff in the house are my books. Steve has some old crap in the basement, like a 100-year old tiger skin from China, but we’ll get to that later. Let me show you some of my oldest books.

About twenty five years ago, I was visiting a friend who lived in a small town outside of Boston. One day, we roamed through an antique shop, and I rummaged through a basket of old books under a table. I picked up this old copy of Little Women, which is one of my favorite books, and bought it for 25 cents. I promptly put it away in a box and forgot about it.

I found it last year and put it on my Etsy shop. After doing a little research, I found out that it was a I believe it was a second edition from 1870. I sold it in couple of months for $700.

I’ve got a Robert’s Rule of Order from 1876.

I’ve got “The Red Cross” by Clara Barton from 1899, but I haven’t listed it yet.

I love this illustrated history of the Civil War from 1895. I honestly don’t want to part with this one. (Click on the link for all the beautiful and horrifically racist images inside.)

I lost today to parenting chores. Ian was home from school for the Jewish holidays, and he needed a lot of help with an engineering project. For the rest of the week, I’m continuing my break from real writing and will the time listing a huge allotment of vintage textbooks that I bought a couple of months ago for $3. Engineering textbooks from the 1930s are surprisingly collectable.

The Oldest Thing in My House #1

Picking up a comment thread in the last post, I thought I would find the oldest things in my house. (I’m waiting around for edits on a draft and don’t feel like starting anything new until next week. It’s the Gig Worker’s prerogative.) We’ll do our own Antique Roadshow here at Apt. 11D for a couple of days.

A couple of weeks ago, I unpacked my grandmother’s old sewing machine from its box in the basement and decided to display it somewhere in the house. It’s kinda cool. Check out the beautiful scroll work.

I actually had no idea how old it was until a few minutes ago. It’s from the 1940s, which means it’s probably not the oldest thing in my house, but it’s still cool.

My grandmother used it, until she died about fifteen years ago. In fact, I used it ten years ago for some project or another. It still works great.

More to come.

The Apple Pilgrimage

On Sunday, we tromped up to Dr. Davies farm for apple picking. We’ve gone up there every year since Jonah was in pre-school about 16 years ago. We munch on Macintosh, Red Delicious, and Romes right from the tree, and then pack up a huge sack with more. Then we live on apple sauce for months. It’s tradition. And even though our kids are big, we still like to go every year to tip our hat to fall and to remember past trips when the kids were little.

Chill Out

On this lovely Saturday afternoon, I sent Steve off by his lonesome to watch Ian bang on his bass drum at the football game. I need to put in a couple of hours on a big article that I’ve been working on since the end of August. I’m about ten hours of work away from submitting the piece to the editor. Maybe twenty hours. Who the hell knows?

And then I’m going to chill out for a couple of weeks. I’m going to exercise every morning and sell some books on the Internet for the fun. (Somebody just bought $75 for an old set of encyclopedias that were heading for the dumpster. Who knew?)

I need the time to regroup and reassess plans. I’ve been freelancing education articles, on and off, for seven years now. A seven-year anniversary seems like a good time to look at my ROI. I’ve paid a lot of dues (writing for free). Is all that effort paying off?

I basically like what I do and would be content to keep doing it forever, but at some point, one should question that plan when one could make more money working part time shelving books at Barnes and Noble.

This current article was paying well enough, until I kept digging and realized that I had a bigger article than I anticipated. I’ve put in so many hours into it, that at this point, I’m working for free. I suppose it’s my own fault. I’ve gone way beyond the original plan for the article. But I just couldn’t stop myself.

Between stressing myself out over this article and doing too much at home, my insomnia flared up again. It’s really hard to function on three hours of sleep.

So, chilling out is happening. We’re not over scheduling our weekends with socializing. I’m not signing on to write anything except for essays or editorials for a little while. I’m reading long blog posts from Martha Stewart; I find her very soothing.

And inspired by Martha, we’re getting caught up with home chores. We have some driveway work happening this weekend. Steve’s laying down a PVC pipe underneath the driveway with tubes that will operate a future sprinkler system. We have a mason repairing the front stairs. And then the driveway guys will come back next week and pore out the asphalt.

Enjoy the weekend, folks!

The Unbearable Misery of Traveling in September

Around here, the schools close for two days in September for the Jewish holidays. Seems like a perfect opportunity for a quick vacation, right? The weather is still nice, but the crowds are gone. The autistic kid doesn’t have friends, so it makes him much more portable. We switched around some tutoring time, and we’re good to go.

A couple of years ago, we used this break for a quick trip up to Lake George. This year, Ian and I hitched a ride to Toronto with Steve, who had a business trip there.

But both September trips were kinda “meh,” because it’s really a bummer to be at a place that isn’t set up for tourists. Sites are closed; others are a little depressing. Meanwhile, both Steve and I are in work-mode, so we’re either feeling guilty about not working or answering work e-mails from the top of CN Tower.

And this trip involved some serious transportation hassles. Toronto is actually very close to us. The flight is only 1-1/2 hours on a tiny plane that flies into a little island in the downtown area. Should be piece of cake. But still, it felt we were traveling for the entire day.

Slightly sleep deprived – I’m a terrible hotel sleeper — we cut corners when we could. We lugged our suitcases to the airport in a cab, rather than waiting 30 minutes for the free shuttle, for example. But still it was a whole day affair. Customs, suitcase weigh-ins (failed/had to check a bag), security, cab rides home, cushion time, taxi home in rush hour. The whole process probably took six or seven hours.

The autistic kid got a gold star and kept his frustrations to himself. Mostly.

On the way back home, the driver of the car service yelled at Steve for nearly the entire 40 minute trip home, because Steve texted him too early. Steve hadn’t considered that it was going to take over an hour to process our passports, pick up luggage, and then go another mysterious 30 minute line. The dude had to circle the airport for an entire hour, because there’s no place to wait with a cab.

Getting from Point A to Point B was so miserable yesterday that I can’t imagine flying again for quite a while. How do people, who travel frequently for work, survive this process without despairing?

The Burden of Beautiful

Last Saturday, I couldn’t take it anymore. My manicure was three weeks old. My nails were cracked, and the old nail polish was chipped down to a small semi circles on each nail. On a super busy weekend, I ran to the nail place for a mani-pedi.

Getting a regular manicure is a new thing for me. I never had the time or the money for lots of self-maintenance in the past. And I kinda hate it. Sitting under the nail blower for fifteen minutes waiting for the polish to dry is torture. I’m way too ADD to just chill out and enjoy the whole process. Half the time, I bolt out of the place with tacky nails that inevitably gets dinged, when I get to the car and fish around for a seatbelt.

But now I’m hooked. I’ve gotten used to having nicely filed nails. When I let them go, I feel positively itchy. Likewise with other maintenance chores that have now become part of my routine. I have to get my eyebrows threaded and shaped every two weeks. Every two months, Lauren the hairdresser spends 2-1/2 hours making my red hair a uniform color and then cutting and blow drying straight. At the moment, my natural color is auburn on the side and back, white at the temples, and blond on top; red hair ages oddly.

I have never spent so much time or money on my personal appearance before. And I’m uncomfortable with the whole business. Every hour in the salon is time that I could be doing something more productive.

And I do a whole lot less on my appearance than other professional women. Whenever a group of young women journalists and other professional commentators appears on CNN talking super important stuff about impeachment or corruption in the government, I’m forever distracted by checking out the perfection of their hair and makeup.

They must spend hours in a chair getting beautiful before sitting in front of the camera. There’s not a hair out of place. No natural curls there. They have glued on fake eyelashes and an inch of make up. And before that, there were probably tons of visits to dermatologists and spas to keep that chin from sagging and to close up that dent between the eyebrows.

Looking beautiful means less time reading, researching, reading, interviewing, and just getting smarter. It gives the dudes who just need a haircut and a suit such a huge edge. And I feel like the standards keep getting higher and higher.

Looking pretty is fine. Like I said, I like that my nails are trimmed and my hair is tamed, but there’s a point when it interferes with work. And life! I would like a bit of a return of old school 70s feminism that understood that trade-off.