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Desi

spring favorites

Posted in Living by

It can’t just be me – this winter felt, again, like it would never end. (It was so bad that this weekend, in late April, there was a snowstorm in Chicago that closed the airport, meaning we got “stranded” in Minneapolis.) I’ve been very glad for the brief moments of respite from the bitter cold and snow, and equally happy to find projects, games, and products that have made being stuck inside feel a little less-bad. Here’s what I’m into this season!

Uniqlo drape pants: Holy cow fam, I just discovered Uniqlo. Who was keeping them a secret from me?! I’ve long needed to replace things that I wear every day, like sweatpants and slippers (working from home has its own wardrobe, too.) When we stopped in a few weeks ago, I ran wild. I got two pairs of these drape pants, and I’m essentially living in them now. Perfect weight, light and flowy, stylish and comfortable. I love them!

Crocs Strappy Sandals: When a friend got married this spring, I realized that I didn’t really have any dressy shoes anymore. I saw these recommended by a one-bag traveler for their comfort and versatility, but by the time I got them in the mail I’d found a different pair of shoes to wear. After missing the Amazon return window I finally opened them and tried them on, and they feel like you’re walking on clouds – plus they’re really cute, and look nothing like Crocs!

Sadie by Courtney Summers: I had been in a real reading slump after reading a lot of non-fiction books about technology – I was getting too depressed and upset to finish them, and if I have an “active” book, it’s hard for me to start something new. Knowing that I’d probably get through a YA book in a few sittings, I overcame my aversion to starting something new when something is in progress and OMG. This book is totally worth all the hype it has gotten. I stayed up late finishing it one night, and have been thinking about it ever since. (If you’ve read it can we PLEASE talk about the ending??)

Superhi: This year, I finally decided to get really serious about learning code properly rather than the hack-and-paste strategy I’ve been going with for the last few years. Superhi is the first online course I’ve found that really works for the way my brain learns. I’ve tried Skillcrush before, and a few others, and I could never stick with them. I’ve taken three course so far and recently purchased another bundle to work through over the summer!

Notion: Everyone is singing the praises of Notion lately for organization, and I have jumped on board. The first time I tried it a few months ago I was overwhelmed by how flexible it is, but it didn’t take too long to get it set up and migrate a lot of my life over into it. Evan and I keep our schedules, our shopping list, and a sort of ‘future log’ in it, and I’m using it to track everything from code classes to essay ideas and research.

Llamanoes: Growing up, we played a lot of games, and in an effort to get away from screens and my phone, I’m working on playing more. These Llamanoes are ADORABLE and a fun game to play with kids because it’s super easy. If you’re more into adult games, we just picked up these plastic playing cards after a disastrous meeting between a bottle of water and a deck of cards.

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson: It takes kind of a lot for me to opt in to new shows, but one particular review made me move this up in the queue pretty quickly. And with good reason – it’s probably the funniest thing I’ve seen in the last ten years. The episodes are short, between 15-20 minutes each, with three or four sketches in each. This is my style of comedy – taking things too far, making people uncomfortable, the darkest of the dark.

What are you into lately? Anything I should check out?

April 15, 2019
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monthly roundup no. 10: february 2019

Posted in Living by

It’s that time of the month again where I clear out my Pocket articles and share some of my favorite articles I collected this month. It seems like I’m tending more toward technical-type investigations lately, which makes sense as I continue through my Superhi course. This is the first bootcamp I’ve found that really works for my teaching style, so if you’re a highly visual or design-oriented learner, I can’t recommend them more.

Since that kind of reading isn’t for everyone, I’m sharing some of my favorite entertainment write ups from the month. Lizzo! Laura! Roller coasters! More crummy musician men! It’s all here for you today.

It’s Just a Matter of Time Until Everyone Loves Lizzo: If you aren’t listening to Lizzo yet, what on earth are you doing? Her music is super feel good, and she’s unapologetic from everything from her body to her self-love. She’s the baddest ass flautist I’ve ever seen, and I just hope to someday feel about my self the way Lizzo feels about Lizzo. And also the way I feel about Lizzo.

The Spectacular Failure of the World’s Only Hard Rock Theme Park: This hits on two of my biggest interests: abandoned things and theme parks. I had no idea that there had even ever been a Hard Rock theme park, let alone that it had been in South Carolina of all places, and this thorough tour through its history was fascinating.

After many many years, favorite blog The Billfold is closing. One of my 2018 highlights was to finally be published there, and I’m very sad to see it go. Despite the popularity of other money sites, none of them are as personal as writers and articles were here.

On Dermatillomania: Laura Stevenson is an amazing songwriter and singer, and her jams have been there for me through some of the ugliest of times. She penned this essay on self-harm for Talkhouse, and I’m glad that she was able to share her experience so it can potentially help so many others. (Big ol’ TW on that if you’re susceptible to self-harm.)

13 Reasons We Type in Lowercase: I type almost exclusively in lowercase. At work, I type lowercase in our Slack channel, but it’s hit or miss everywhere else – Basecamp and Github see varied cases, I guess depending on the day. I’ve always thought it was mostly for speed – not hitting the “shift” key does save a little bit of time, I suppose – and, probably, a little bit of laziness.

Ryan Adams and the Betrayal of Teenage Girls: At this point it’s little shock when a powerful man’s abuse comes to light, and while I don’t think that Ryan Adams was a surprise, reading the NYT article with the women he abused hit very close to home. Mandy Moore’s quote at the end of the piece is something I think I’ve said verbatim about my abuser in the past. This Buzzfeed piece is just one more illustration that this is not isolated – it happens everywhere, to almost every woman.

I think capping it off with something happier would be nice. A friend of a friend wrote Hymns for Druggie Party Kids awhile ago, and it was recently published. It’s a great piece on how music can find you when you need it most, and it of course features my favorite band, The Hold Steady.

Any articles you particularly loved this month? Share them below!

February 21, 2019
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january 2019 book club

Posted in Entertainment by

book club book reviews

New year, new books, new me! Or something like that. I read A LOT in January, which I attribute to getting a library card for my new city, which has the most amazing library. I also started listening to more audiobooks again – often while playing a video game, because my boyfriend got me hopelessly hooked on Mass Effect – and I also picked up several graphic novels, which are usually quick reads.

I still love my Kindle – especially the feature that lets you check out library books – and Amazon’s Kindle First Reads have been really great lately too. (They offer six free books to choose from every month, so you can read them before release.)

Let’s dive in!

The Great Believers: Wow. Wow wow wow. This is the most incredible book I’ve read in a long time. It’s set in 1980’s Chicago – during the AIDS pandemic – and present(ish) day Paris. I wondered how the two storylines would intersect, and if it would make sense, but it does – and wonderfully so. To avoid spoilers, it’s hard for me to describe the book any more specifically than that, but I felt deeply for the characters, invested in their wellbeing and happiness. We went to visit friends while I was reading this, and they live in the neighborhood much of the novel takes place in, and I was just excitedly looking around at the places mentioned in the book. (I realize not everyone can have that experience, but it’s fun when a book can make you excited about your city.) Don’t hesitate, just pick this book up and read it – you won’t regret it.

Taking Turns: Following my binge of The Great Believers, I was reminded of this graphic novel that’s long languished on my TBR list. Written by a nurse who worked on Chicago’s only dedicated AIDS ward (a place many characters in the book spent time), it’s a really affecting account of the disease’s impact on families, the staff, and the city. It’s a great follow up to The Great Believers.

Like reading on your computer or mobile device? Check out Scribd – thousands of eBooks, audiobooks, magazines and more on your device!

My Year of Rest and Relaxation: This book had a lot of hype around it, and rightfully so. It’s not often that I hate a narrator but still enjoy the book, but that’s the point – rather than facing her problems, she finds a psychiatrist and uses her to basically sleep through a full year. Set in 2000, it’s an interesting time period, when it was maybe a little easier to slip through social nets and avoid and ignore people. Though I hated the character, the writing and story was amazing. This is a good one to curl up with on a subzero weekend.

Kitchen Confidential: Despite my love of the Food Network, I’ve never watched an Anthony Bourdain show. I still haven’t, but I loved listening to this audiobook. It’s fascinating, and I liked how he didn’t pull any punches about addiction in the restaurant industry, or the crazy hours and crazy hours, resulting often in crazy lives. It’s a really great food memoir, and it’s a heavy recommend from me.

Speak: The original novelization of this book was a favorite of mine in high school. I loved the mystery – what happened? Why did she refer to this guy as “Beast”? – and was very excited when I learned a graphic novel had been published last year. Unsurprisingly, I read this book in one sitting the night I brought it home from the library. The illustrations capture the story well, and the revelation scenes are really well done. Graphic novels aren’t all comics and jokes, and Speak is an excellent example of that.

The Four Tendencies: When we picked the “book about personality types” prompt for the reading challenge, I knew immediately I was going to read this book. Gretchen’s podcast is great, so I listened to the audiobook while working, and it had a lot of interesting insights. While it’s always fun to hear about your own personality type, there were a lot of suggestions on how to interact with other personality types, including kids. I made Evan take the quiz to see what his result would be, and it was exactly what I had expected. He asked what my type is, and I said “what do you think?” I can’t imagine a more perfect response from a Questioner.

Sick: I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS BOOK. America’s health system is broken, for sure, and this is the story of a writer who struggles with getting care and a diagnosis often without health insurance, a consistent primary provider, and the stigma of being brown, a woman, and having a history of addiction. After many years (and many caretakers, a marker of her illness), she gets a diagnosis and learns the early signs of a relapse. As someone who has been through rounds and rounds and rounds of medical testing, often without resolution, this book felt very familiar and truthful.

Wondering how I read so much? My libraries use Libby – see if your library has a partnership, and check out the mobile app!

Fun Home: This graphic novel about a woman’s relationship with her father and the lies she uncovers as she grows up and comes out is really beautifully done. The artwork is lovely and I liked the way the story started to finally weave together in the end. I didn’t love it as much as some other people do, but I didn’t dislike it by any means, and it was a nice read.

Lush: Unsurprisingly, my obsession with addiction memoir continues. I haven’t read any of Kerry Cohen’s previous work, but she makes several references to topics covered in her first two memoirs, and they sound great. I related to a lot of this book – I’m getting to the sort of awkward age where a lot of things center around drinking, and I’m tending more toward red wine. Not that I needed any cautionary tale, but this is a great look at problem drinking outside the stereotypical 20’s college student.

What did you kick off the year reading?

February 1, 2019
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favorite amazon buys

Posted in Shopping by

My birthday is this weekend! Yay! Sipping champagne in a hot bathtub, playing video games, reading a book, and watching boyfriend play a show are how I’ll be spending it. Those are a few of my favorite things, so today I thought I’d share a few more. These are some of the products I’ve found that I can’t imagine living without anymore – they make my life so much easier!

Platypus Water Bottle: This is my absolute favorite Amazon buy ever, and definitely one of my favorite products from anywhere. I try to drink a lot of water, but when I’m out and about, I would never bring a water bottle with me because they’re heavy and take up a lot of space in your bag. Viola, a collapsible water bag! I love this one because it has a double latch closure and it’s never leaked on me, and also has a built-in carabiner clip. I get asked about it all the time because it’s such a handy thing to throw in a bag without taking up any space. (This Contigo water bottle is still my favorite one at home, though!)

tea stand

Tea Bag Organizer: I had seen these advertised a lot and thought they were super gimmicky, but after too many visits to DavidsTEA, it was clear I needed to do something with my boxed teas. When it was on a lightning deal, I finally went ahead and nabbed it – and, as advertised, got SO MUCH space in my cabinet back. If you’re an avid tea bag drinker dealing with piles and piles of boxes in your cabinets, I can’t recommend this enough.

SET: I love games – board games, card games, and even recently video games. SET is a longtime favorite card game of mine. You look for “sets” of three cards that either have everything in common, or nothing in common. It’s a good brain teaser, and I like it because you can play it with someone or solo.

Coat Hook: We have three of these in our house now, and they’re exactly what I was looking for when I found them last year. It was surprisingly hard to find single hooks that were affordable! This hook is $1.88 and we hang additional coats on them in our coat closet, and I mounted one in my office to hang my blanket (forever cold) and work bag.

Boot Socks: A few years ago I ordered these on a lightning deal to give someone else, and ended up claiming a pair for myself. They’re soft, thick, so warm, and really cute. If I had any more space in my sock drawer, I’d order another set so I’d never run out between laundry.

Top Knot-Friendly Beanie: I’m not sure if this is a sign that I Have Given Up, but 99 days out of 100, my hair is just in a messy top knot on my head. That always resulted in me looking pretty silly during the winter, with my beanie half-off my head. I had a similar one from lululemon a few years ago, but the ghosts in my old apartment made off with it somehow, so I was pumped to find this one on Amazon for a super reasonable price!

Drawer Organizer: JosephJoseph has the best kitchen stuff – multi-functional, space saving, and fun. We had a weirdly narrow drawer in our kitchen, and I picked this organizer up after seeing it on Apartment Therapy for the 40th time. It’s a nice use of space that would otherwise have been junked.

Travel Infinity Scarf: This simple, classic infinity scarf would have been perfect when I was traveling non-stop. It features one inconspicuous pocket, big enough for a passport, some cash, and even my iPhone 8 (though that does weigh it down significantly.) I’ve taken to not carrying a purse with me much anymore, so this is a great help in freeing up my hands!

Foldable Duffel Bag: THIS BAG IS AAAAAMAAAAZING! It doesn’t look like much, but holy cow, it can hold a lot of stuff. I’ve used it on two week+ trips, and I don’t find myself struggling to edit or make room for things that don’t fit. It folds up into itself, so it makes a nice extra to throw in a bag on a trip you might shop on, and it’s so lightweight it doesn’t add any extra bulk. It’s become my favorite travel bag.

book club book reviews

Picture Ledge: In my old bedroom, I only had one nightstand, so on nights that my boyfriend would stay over, I wouldn’t have a surface to put my phone or a book on. Enter: the picture ledge. It’s a narrow width so it didn’t jut out (no headbanging in the middle of the night) but large enough to hold my phone, a book, and some other essentials like chapstick or lotion. I even stuck some fairy lights under it to serve as a reading lamp, and mounted a mason jar lid so I’d have a place to “put down” a glass of water!

What are some of your favorite products to make life easier? Have you tried any of these before?

January 17, 2019
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2018 book recap & 2019 reading challenge

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So this is it, welcome to the new year! Listening to this song by Motion City Soundtrack just after midnight is my annual tradition as I welcome the changing of the calendar. This year I was extra anxious, because I had nearly completed my 2018 book challenge, and everything else that I wanted to read next would fit the 2019 prompts that Dani and I had chosen.

Last year I managed to read 104 books, which is absolutely a record for me. (That many books, and I still managed to miss a few categories in the challenge. Grr.) I thought I’d revisit some of my favorite books as we gear up for the next challenge!

My Own Devices: Unsurprisingly, this was my book of the year. Dessa is one of my favorite musicians, favorite lyricists, and the writing in her first memoir is unsurprisingly lyrical. It examines the science of love, and if it’s possible to use science to fall out of it, and what to do when the person you’re in senseless love with is also part of your rap crew.

Marlena: This book was recommended to me by two friends, and I’m so glad they did. It’s the story of a woman looking back on her murdered best friend when they were growing up in rural Michigan, running amok and hanging out with the proverbial bad crowd. It’s told in alternating timelines – mostly in the past, with some modern day reflections, and I read it in about two days.

Broad Band: Did you know that the internet was built by women, and that women were the original computers? Even though I work in tech, I truly did not – I’d never really thought about the origin of the word “computer,” or how things were built. Claire Evans tells the stories of some of the most important and influential women in tech, and I haven’t stopped talking about this book ever since. (There were three people who got this for me at Christmas.)

Dark Matter: HOOOO BOY. I found this book while looking for books described as similar to Maybe In Another Life, which is my favorite book, and even though it’s a bit more sci-fi than I usually tend toward, it is incredible. It’s also set in Logan Square, where I spend a lot of time, so it was fun to picture the locations the characters would find themselves in. It made me think a lot about the ethics of things like the multiverse and cloning – you know, just casual topics.

Daisy Jones and the Six*: I’m a huge fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid, so when I heard that her next book was based in music journalism history, I was ecstatic. This novel is told as a narration – members of bands Daisy was affiliated with, as well as Daisy herself, tell a love story, a band biography, and paints the 1960’s rock landscape so perfectly you’ll think you were there.

Tell Me Lies: The cover of this book spoke to me, and I checked it out of the library without really even considering what it was about. Turns out it’s about a girl who continually tries to make a relationship with a man who clearly doesn’t care about her. Tina said that this book is for a particular audience, but that that audience would love it, and I agree.

Wintergirls: Clearly, I trend toward enjoying stories about self-destructive women. Laurie Halse Anderson is such a great writer, and the Wintergirls are two girls who bond over their eating disorders until one of them dies, and the other is forced to reckon with her feelings about her friend and her illness. I’d meant to read this for years, and I thought it was really well-written, and certainly didn’t glorify anorexia or bulimia at all.

Sharp Objects: This was actually my first Gillian Flynn book, and I really loved it. The writing feels dark, and the story certainly is – a journalist goes back to her hometown to look for connections in murder and missing girl cases. The protagonist is a cutter, drinks to medicate her depression, and I appreciated the familiarity in her coping mechanisms. I haven’t seen the Showtime series yet, but I aim to binge it soon!

For 2019’s challenge, we had brainstormed all year, noting prompt ideas and reading lists in our shared document. During roommate Christmas at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate (oh my gosh, so amazing, it’s a must visit in Chicago) we reviewed everything, cut out categories from last year that we hated (goodbye, Nordic noir!) and determined the 2019 challenge.

Do you do reading challenges? How do you force yourself to make it through books you hate?!

* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher for review. Thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.
January 3, 2019
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