HOOO BOY, darlings. It’s been ANOTHER ROTTEN WEEK.
We have sat marinating in bad news and reflecting with heavy hearts how well-designed our society is to isolate the vulnerable and facilitate abuse by the powerful and we could use A BREAK. Thankfully, our pal Kamille brought us the PERFECT game: how about a fantasy draft, but instead of for FOOTBALL, we do it… for Covens.
It feels like EXACTLY the activity our brains hungered for the most. If you feel the same, come find us on Twitter and let us know your picks. You have seven spots. CHOOSE WISELY.
Dame Margaret’s first round pick is Angela Lansbury. Obviously.
Not only did she play a witch convincingly in Bedknobs and Broomsticks
She also has the kind of face dramatic youth spells were MADE to reveal
And anyone who saw her CHILLING heel turn in The Manchurian Candidate would know: she is NOT a lady to cross.
Dame Sophie’s first-round pick is Ming-Na Wen, who, over the course of a nearly 30-year career has done it all - starring roles in two successful TV dramas, a bunch of film work, and voicing an iconic Disney (warrior!) princess role -- and appears to have aged maybe 5 years in the process. Obviously, good genes & an enviable skincare regimen have played a role, but I also suspect witchcraft is at work here, and good for her!
Who can forget Ming-Na on ER as Dr. Jing-Mei “Deb” Chen, who left County General for life as a medical researcher at the end of Season One and returned, much more confident and capable, in Season 6. Let’s not discuss how much time I spent poring over the Dr. Chen entry on Wikipedia and instead focus our energies on an impassioned letter-writing campaign to NBC to let ER stream on Netflix, already!
Feminist icon Fa Mulan. What is there even to say? She cuts off her hair, she trains harder than anyone else, she’s a brilliant strategist, she’s the absolute best, and I’m way way overdue for a re-watch because that’s all I can remember!
I’m pretty sure the first role I saw Ming-Na play was sweet June in The Joy Luck Club. Her performance is so tender and searching, and her best-quality heart will always make me cry.
Fast-forward to now: Ming-Na Wen is now in her fifties and kicking all kinds of bad-guy ass as Agent Melinda May in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Seriously, do not get in this woman’s way.
Who's your first-round Fantasy Coven draft pick? We’d love to know!
THROATY GAY LAUGH REMINDER! We’re Live-tweeting CAROL on SUNDAY!
START PREPPING YOUR SNACK NESTS, Gal Pals-- a livetweet’s a coming this Sunday! For October, we’ve chosen the very justly lauded romantic period piece Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as women who fall in love in New York in the mid-1950s. Join us!
When: Sunday, October 15, 7:30 pm ET
Where: each of our respective cozy pillow forts & on Twitter, using #carol (don’t worry, we’ll use #haroldtheyrelesbians, too)
How: Netflix or DVD
AWESOME GIVEAWAY NOTICE!! Get JUSTLY BUFF with Ruth Bader-Ginsberg!
Via the good folks at Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, we are HONORED to offer you a chance to win a copy of The RBG Workout, an illustrated guide to the ACTUAL workout Justice Ginsberg uses to KEEP LIMBER while protecting our uteruses from invasive legislation and other superheroic actions! PLUS NEAT SWAG ALSO?? All told, it’s a pretty sweet deal. Just click through here if you want to enter!
As The Patron Saint of October Would Ask:
We’ll be recording our quarterly podcast* on Sunday, and this time around we’re taking Ask Two Bossy Dames and making it *~audible~*, so you know what that means! Now is the perfect time to pose your most burning questions to the Ask TBD Form! We’re particularly looking for your questions about the winter holidays - wardrobe, menu, gifts, social commitments, travel - and look forward to furnishing you with our usual blend of practical and piquant advice (which, to be clear, is not legal or medical in nature. We really are only friendly know-it-alls).
*We release this podcast to our $10 Patreon subscribers first, and then a month later to the public.
Dame Margaret's Trash for Bruno and She's Okay With It
I’m not really in a place ~emotionally~ to talk about any men at all but you know who doesn’t care about that? Bruno Mars doesn’t care. Bruno Mars is just going to be out here, being the world’s most ingratiating showman, performing astonishingly great acoustic versions of his pop hits on… Charlie Rose? Of all places? And compelling me to watch 10-minute compilation of his best dance breaks and making my troubles seem so far away. I don’t even care that he’s a man. He’s a TINY JOY-BRINGING SPRITE AND I LOVE HIM. I hope these links have the same calming effect on your constitution. I am deeply indebted to Nicole Cliffe for bringing the video to my attention.
In case you weren’t aware, this Wednesday was National Coming Out Day, a holiday whose observances are as variable as the sexual identities are numerous! Here are two pieces of writing pertinent to it that I found valuable: Angela Chen’s essay on learning to love her asexuality, because it was great writing about one of the identities I see discussed and represented the least in general cultural, and Allegra Ringo’s “I’m queer, but also my life is pretty easy,” which speaks very directly to my life as a blink-and-you-might-miss-it bisexual.
Our favorite NPR Music project to date, Turning the Tables-- wherein NPR’s female-identified staff came together to determine a canon of the 150 most influential albums by female-identified musicians since 1964-- is the gift that keeps on giving:
First, there's the excellent work being published in its continuing series on “shocking omissions” from the initial list of 150 albums. I particularly enjoyed like this insightful one on the quiet sexual revolution contained in Taylor Swift’s RED, a masterpiece on which I slept a shamefully long time due to internalized misogyny, and the girls-back-to-the-front impact of Rilo Kiley’s MORE ADVENTUROUS, an album I have listened to so much, and at such moments of emotional intensity, that it feels woven into my very DNA.
THEN!!!! Like a sitcom from the 90s, it occasioned a CROSSOVER EVENT with another one of our absolute favorite things, the NY Times's Still Processing podcast, which devoted a whole (EXCELLENT) episode to discussing it, and lead to an essay by Wesley Morris on the experience of listening to only women all summer, containing essential truths like: “We take female musicians just seriously enough not to notice that we don’t actually take them seriously enough. They matter in the present. But posterity is another matter.”
And then finally, for self-care this week, I took a minute to revisit CASE/LANG/VEIRS, one of my absolute favorite albums from last year, and to introduce myself to THERE’S NO LOVE IN FLUORESCENT LIGHT, the newest album from my most beloved earnest synthers, Stars. Whether you’re getting amped to go out with me tonight, or winding down while contemplating the best kept secret in Silver Lake, either album is good company for a Friday night.
Dame Sophie Thinks Rest vs. Laziness is a Harmful, Useless Frame
Eloise: right on rest, right for America.
I had the day off on Monday and I did so little, and it was glorious. My actual activity for the day was: wake up around 7, have breakfast, get back in bed, listen to podcasts, read a magazine, chat with my daughter, shower & dress, get back in bed AGAIN, have lunch, go do some shopping, come back home, move clean laundry from last night into the dryer, then relax. My husband came home and later we watched Halt & Catch Fire after our daughter went to bed. The End!
Many of my friends are, like me, married mothers in early middle-age with a lot on our plates: our relationships with our spouses, with our kids, with our families of origin, with our friends, with our coworkers. Also, hey, our paid work! And our hobbies! We do a lot of emotional labor, and we’re tired. I might once have been inclined to describe my day on Monday as very lazy, but what I just described to you wasn’t laziness, it was rest.
Rest vs. Laziness is a terrible frame, isn’t it? It’s assigns a moral valence to a state that we literally need to carry on living, which merits us cancelling it right off the bat. It also falls into that category of Shitty Self-Talk You Wouldn’t Inflict On A Friend. If one of your friends were to say, “jeez, I was so exhausted this weekend, I took a nap both days!” would you respond by saying, “but what about your laundry????” Most likely, you would not, but if the napping friend was you, you might silently berate yourself for being a lazy bum, because our hyperfocused-on-productivity society has conditioned you to be judgmental of your good self like that.
Without referring to any particular domestic or world events in particular: managing your emotions all day as you are bombarded with taxing and possibly traumatizing social & political news is tiring. That emotional regulation we’re all doing so that we can continue to function in our everyday lives without hurling bricks through every window we pass is good & worthwhile work, and is every bit as tiring to our bodies as any challenging physical activity. It follows that being so tired that you need to add more sleep to your schedule is your body telling you it needs some help. Your body carries around your brilliant mind and loving heart and fine soul, so tucking it in bed or taking it out for a very gentle stroll in the waning sunlight of the day is a kindness, not a wicked indulgence.
Thinking about my specific body (which I injured today in a very annoying way, forcing me to cancel my fun evening plans, UGH, BODIES), I know I need to be well-rested in order to maintain the status quo of my life and to even think about my various goals beyond that status quo. Thanks to having lived half of my life with chronic migraine, I’m now mildly fanatical about maintaining a rather rigidly boring schedule for myself. Most days I go to bed at the same time & wake up at the same time, and this summer I started eating on a very specific schedule, too, partly to give my migraine brain more of the homeostasis it so obnoxiously craves. It helps, hooray! I am frequently very boring as a result, oh well!
Rest can take a bunch of forms, too. Some of my favorite types of rest involve expending energy but are also spiritually replenishing. It’s worth making a list of favorite rest activities that fall into both the resting-rest and activity-rest categories. Keep that list in a note on your phone or on slips of paper in a little jar on your desk or wherever it’s handy & accessible so that you can do a psychological/physiological pick & mix and not have to think about it. Making decisions all day long is tiring, too! Give yourself the gift of a respite from decision fatigue!
Similarly, you may recall that I wrote a few months ago about acting from an awareness that self-care and self-soothing aren’t always the same thing. Rest isn’t about regularly weaseling off the hook of my responsibilities, though I do take a certain amount of pleasure in doing that, because we were lied to: the terrible racket of being an adult is not doing whatever you want, whenever you want. Rest is about weaseling off the responsibilities hook once in a while, and figuring out how to do what’s good enough rather than my very very best, and also occasionally Doing A Thing now so that Future Me will thank Current Me instead of cursing her very name.
This is a balancing act & obviously, I’m still figuring this stuff out - another fun truth of adulthood! We’re all figuring everything out, all the time! Turning 40 did not make me perfectly well-adjusted! Which was a tad disappointing but also oddly freeing! - and imagine you might be doing the same. I love to talk about this stuff because for me, knowing perfection is impossible makes it easier to accept getting better all the time can only ever really be a hobby for me. So please come find me on Twitter and yell about it with me! What balance of weaseling/good enough-ing/thing-doing is your ideal? What’s your favorite way to rest your wonderful self?
Some stuff that was useful context for this half-baked mini-essay:
This episode of Secret Feminist Agenda, a newish interview podcast hosted by Hannah McGregor, co-host of Witch, Please (and recent TBD guest editor!), specifically about the distinction between rest and laziness, and the importance of assigning and deriving value from ourselves that has nothing to do with our productivity. Hannah’s guest, Cynara Geissler, will be familiar to all of you who read her piece on Toddler Grandma Style. She & Hannah had such a wonderful conversation that there’s a Part 2 to this episode, about embracing good-enough-ness. Good enough for me!
I think a lot about my time & energy. What optional things is it worth spending on? How best to invest my time & energy to accomplish goals at work and at home? Protecting Writing Time is written by an academic talking about how she makes sure she has energy for her scholarly writing & editing work, so it may not map perfectly to your experiences if you work outside of academia, but you can probably substitute your important activity (required or otherwise) for “writing”, anyway. Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time is another useful perspective on this chronic challenge.
Two pieces I’ve seen crop up repeatedly on my timeline and groups on Facebook seem very relevant here: The New Midlife Crisis for Women and Women Aren't Nags—We're Just Fed Up. I don’t super-identify with the scenarios presented in each one, but I recognize the situations the authors are describing. The midlife crisis piece in particular is very well-researched and though it’s bleak as hell, it’s very much worth a read in a know thy sociologically systemic enemies sort of way.