Week 27: Open these tabs
Or don't. Take care of your online and offline self!
|Julia Smith||Mar 7, 2019|
Since I sent a bonus installment last night, I’m keeping this one simpler. Here are some links to things I’ve found meaningful recently. If last night’s email was about seed planting, maybe something here will help you…fertilize.
Save a home
Look at this GoFundMe campaign. If half the people reading this newsletter chipped in $10 tonight or first thing tomorrow, we could help the organizers reach their $70k goal and help Mr. Leonard Powell, a veteran and retired postal worker in South Berkeley, get home.
Run for something
Should you or someone you know run for office? Before you rush to shake your head emphatically NO, here are some links: “See You on the Ballot” podcast, transcript, and reading list (Call Your Girlfriend); 12 Absolutely Essential Things You Should Know About Running For Office (Cosmopolitan); Run for Something’s Strategic Plan (Medium).
Grab your headphones if you’re still thinking through the Jussie Smollett situation, because both of these audio treasures helped me: the Liars episode of Still Processing (NYT, or most any podcast platform, 43 minutes) and this commentary from my forever fave Michel Martin (NPR, < 4 minutes). If you really aren’t a podcast or audio clip person, this Twitter thread by Eve Ewing and the first few replies beneath it are worth the read.
Stay with me on this one.
At some point in the last few years I started to hear and file away the phrase “Dr. Seuss was racist.” I didn’t really know what that meant, though, and I confess that I didn’t pause and pay attention until much more recently. Two things happened: First, my child fell inexplicably, deeply in love with the board book edition of Mr. Brown Can Moo. Can You? Neither her father nor I were familiar with it, but we received two copies as gifts when she was born, and she began to express a strong preference for it even when she was very tiny. We now recite it from memory and have deployed this tactic to soothe her on planes, and in standstill traffic, and before every nap, twice a day, for months. My eyelids are closing just typing this.
Second, the number of elementary school teachers in my life has increased in recent years as a couple of cousins graduated from college and pursued this career path. They are earnest and capable and dedicated to their students, and they post cheery pictures of themselves all dressed up for Read Across America Day (which, for the uninitiated, started out as an annual early March celebration of Dr. Seuss on his birthday; it has since been rebranded because, spoiler, he did some pretty racist stuff!).
Wondering if I was “supposed” to un-memorize and rid my household of Mr. Brown — and also expand my Feminist Killjoy reputation in yet another direction with my extended family — I recently finally started digging into this. Recommended reads:
Dr. Seuss’s Racist Past Isn’t the Problem — Your Refusal to Have Hard Conversations Is (Danielle Slaughter, Mamademics)
Dr. Seuss Books Can Be Racist, But Students Keep Reading Them (NPR’s Code Switch)
Talk yourself down, perk yourself up
Besides Dr. Seuss, you know what parenting makes me think about? Death. Like, so much more than ever before. I recently read this post by Katie Hawkins-Gaar (via The Profile). It’s about holding on to happiness and not succumbing to the dread that so often follows. Corny as it may sound, I tried her “list things I’m grateful for” exercise when I couldn’t sleep one night and it helped me calm down. (This share is dedicated to my friend Annie. Happy birthday eve!)
My friend Tanya gifted me a tarot deck in early 2018 and it has been a surprisingly powerful addition to my life. I don’t need to Kondo my home to tell you that the box containing my cards is a joy-sparking object. This piece from Erica Euse at Teen Vogue and this piece from Carolyn Andrews’ Sunday Soother newsletter both break down some of the ways tarot can be used for reflection and thus mental health.
Fun fact: Part of the reason this newsletter exists is because I participated in The 100 Day Project last year. It came at the right moment for me, during a season of intense personal and professional change. The next one kicks off on April 2. I’m not saying that you necessarily need to sign up with the official #The100DayProject and give your best work and self to Instagram. What I am saying is that if you’re on Instagram anyway, it’s worth checking out, and if you’re not on Instagram but want to be in the daily habit of creating something, there are ways to do it without social media and that might be really powerful, too.
Thank you to my since-day-one readers and new subscribers alike! For those who just got here, I’m writing an email each week for 35 weeks. After that, TBD. If a friend forwarded you this email, you can sign up at julia.substack.com.
Images above: Screen shots from my Instagram account during #The100DayProject 2018; individual photos are attributed there.