Merry New Year, Stalwarts of Dames Nation!
We are so grateful for our acquaintance with all of you, auld and new. We are doing something today that is, honestly, a little scary: we are launching a Patreon and giving you the chance to provide material support for the work we do here every week. Patreon is a crowdfunding site a little like Kickstarter, but instead of making a one-time donation to support a specific project, you sign up to give monthly support (for as little as $1) for an ongoing endeavor. If you feel like you can donate, great! Contributing at any level will pay 25,000-for-1 dividends in matching gifts, emotionally speaking. It's a GREAT ROI, 100% independent of the NASDAQ. If you’d like to give, but can’t right now for whatever reason (‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE BROKE), do NOT worry (but please do share the page)! If you don’t want to give: totally ok! WE STILL LOVE YOU. And we’re not going anywhere. You will all continue to receive this newsletter weekly no matter what.
We’re doing this for a couple of reasons. We love being your Dames and we intend to continue for long as possible, regardless of how our campaign is received. But we want to grow bigger, and this will help. Most of all, though, we want to grow sustainably. Damesing is ridiculously rewarding work, but it’s also work -- as much as 10 or 15 hours a week. Launching this campaign is our way of sharing that with you, our way of making the labor we do a little more visible. However it turns out, we’ll be happy.
So, if you have a minute, just roll on over and take a look at our campaign. We were lucky enough to receive some almost obscenely generous blurbs from some of our favorite culture critics, so we are already feeling very Russell Hammond about life.
Dame M’s Link(s, even though she had REALLY PLANNED on only sharing one)
Two links, two great links, that go together like peanut butter and Nutella.
First! Jonathan Krieger, my really cherished friend of 16+ years, wrote something that’s both excellent and timely about how, over the course of this past year, he taught himself how to exercise and eat well. Pieces like this are not usually my thing. Weight loss is a fraught subject (as my second link addresses) and advice about changing habits -- especially dietary and exercise habits -- is so often plagued by a Puritanical assumption that you, the reader, are inherently Fallen and must redeem yourself. So the way Jonathan’s advice opposes that, the way he says very clearly that the best way to change yourself is by being kind to yourself, it really hit home for me. I know there are a lot of habits I want to change this year and, reading over Jonathan’s strategies, I was left feeling like I had the capacity to do so. I hope it strikes the rest of you the same way.
Second! I had been planning to share Jonathan’s piece alone this week, but then Kara Waite, my really cherished friend of somehow-only-one-year, shared this stunning personal essay, “Weightless,” on growing up BIG, and it just laid me out flat. I think it’s both beautiful language, and a powerful story, bravely told. It made me proud to know Kara and excited to share it with you.
On a personal note, I’m also sharing these essays because realizing these two people are my friends, realizing that I had the luck to meet one of them while we were both dumb #teens and that, even with a life as densely packed with friends as mine, every year brings me dozens of new people like Kara who knock my fucking socks off -- it made me feel this gif. HARD.
Dame Sophie’s Selections
Ugh, guys, I have so many great links to share - mainly odds & ends from Christmas and some excellent year-in-review wrap-ups you may have missed, but I will hold them all over for another week in favor of two items relevant to the New Year.
One is the most useful & fascinating thing I’ve read in weeks, which is this piece in Quartz explaining why your Discover Weekly playlist is so spookily good.
If you haven’t noticed this playlist lurking in your profile, or if you just don’t use Spotify, it’s a customized playlist, updated every Monday for your listening enjoyment. I find it equal parts delightful -- yes, Spotify, I would love to hear some Afropop on a Monday morning, great choice! Oh, I’d forgotten how much I love “Come Dancing” by the Kinks, right on! -- and creepy. How did Spotify know that “Gepetto” is my favorite song by Belly? How do they know when I need to hear “Naked Eye” by Luscious Jackson? Did they sneak into my parents’ basement & snag all my late 90s mixtapes?
Kind of. They use a very sophisticated algorithm involving music in my playlists, my friends’ playlists, and sort of what’s in the air, jumble it all up with a flourish & voila! Discover Weekly is born & reborn & reborn. I look forward to seeing Spotify’s archly raised sonic eyebrow each week - the mix of familiarity and freshness feels like a renewal and a reflection all at once.
The other thing I want to share is a little navel-gazey. This time of year, it seems like everyone is looking for a way to do better, but starting and sticking to a new habit is so fraught and difficult. The one thing that’s made a huge difference in my life, that I, who do not have the best track record with forming new habits, is the Bullet Journal method of organization.
It’s very easy to start - you just need a pen or pencil and a notebook. I started with a $2 notebook because I didn’t want to invest anything other than my time & effort in something new. After one month, I knew I’d be using the method for a long time. This week, I set up my 22nd consecutive month in my latest notebook.
My favorite thing about it is how flexible it is, and how many ways there are for it to be a useful tool for you & your life. You don’t have to set up your calendar the way the introductory video directs you to. My Future Log is pretty blank most of the time, because that feature just doesn’t work for me. I often interrupt my running task list with notes from a meeting, and as long as I note them in the Index, I’m golden. At base, Bullet Journal gives form and direction to my often non-linear thinking. I wrote in some detail about the tools I use to make it work for me over on my Tumblr. If you dive in, I hope it’s helpful for you, too!
This Week In Hamilton
Dearest New Readers, welcome!This Week In Hamiltonis a feature we’ve been running since October, rounding up our favorite news items pertaining to our favorite cultural sensation of 2015, the musical Hamilton. We put it at the end of each issue so those who are similarly obsessed know where to find it, and those who don’t give a rat’s patoot can stop reading before they get annoyed. Enjoy!
Not gonna bury the lede. Dame S was the guest on a special Best Bestsellers episode of The Worst Bestsellers this week, talking about some great read-nexts for Hamilfans. Kait & Renata tagged Lin-Manuel Miranda in a tweet about the master list of recommendations, he retweeted it, and we all lost our minds with joy. (It feels like an out-of-body experience, like it happened to someone else? But in a really great way.) (Anyway, we hope you find some great next reads on our list!)
This wide-ranging, insightful interview with NPR showcases what a good egg and masterful performer Leslie Odom, Jr. is.
Another batch of insightful comments from Lin-Manuel on racial politics and why Ivanka’s Dad would benefit from seeing Hamilton.
Philippa Soo is working on The Eliza Project, a remarkable performing arts program with teens who are students at The Graham School, part of the orphanage Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton co-founded in 1806.
LMM, best boss ever, surprised the Company of Hamilton with a private screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
A recent #Ham4Ham performance captured the actresses at the heart of the revival of Fiddler On The Roof adorably petitioning Lin-Manuel to play the Schuyler Sisters, to the tune of “Matchmaker”.
Lin-Manuel is working on #Hamiltome, a lavish book capturing the feel of the musical for those who won’t get a chance to see it live until the eventual national tour launches. He previewed the Table of Contents, which looks like an 18th century pamphlet!
While we searched for the just-right GIF to open the inaugural issue of 2016, we found some that were not perfect for that application, but deeply important, nonetheless, and share them below for your enjoyment, downloading & group-texting enjoyment:
This woman (above) means business. We're here for it.
Happy Mew Year! We are never not cracking up over Pusheen-inflected cute animal puns!
We're not sure what’s happening here but we salute the way this damp-shirted gentleman is striding through that party with purpose, so WHY NOT?
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3