Black Friday Quarantine Kit

Last year we admonished, well, everyone, to stay home. We wrote, "Whatever it is you think you *have* to do this Thanksgiving, you do not."


This Thanksgiving, we had planned some travel. What with vaccines and boosters and all it seemed safer. At least it did when we were making said plans.


Apparently, lots of other people thought this was a good idea, too! Almost two years at home! Masks! Shots! Fights on planes! Variants! What thinking person wouldn't think, "Now. Now is the time. I want *gestures broadly at the world* all of that." (Sure enough, TSA says air travel rebounded to 2019 levels.)


But, for us, all of that didn't sound amazing. It very quickly became clear that this Thanksgiving bore a pretty strong resemblance to last Thanksgiving. Namely, too much COVID. (Also: carelessness.)


We harkened back: Whatever it is you think you *have* to do this Thanksgiving: you do not. We decided that our level of acceptable risk does not include the busiest travel season since 2019.


So. Here we are! In pajamas! Back at the computer! Eating leftovers! Watching tv! Reading books by women! Walking in the Wyoming wind!


Essays


1. The Art of Botox by Amanda Hess | SO MANY GOOD LINES, HOW DOES ONE CHOOSE? Here are two for your reading pleasure:

  • "Botox once suggested vanity, delusion and self-consciousness, but now it has fresh associations: with confidence, resilience, even authenticity, as the idea of 'having work done' has come to be seen as a legitimate form of work."

  • "It presents the kind of bargain one might strike with a nefarious sea witch: She will grant you eternal youth, but at the price of being able to move your face."

2. To Every Woman Who Spent Her Twenties Apologizing by Rainesford Stauffer | Which, we will confess, was so hard to read we read it in multiple sittings and dissected it with any female friend game to talk with us about it. "But it’s these particular spineless sorries—the ones where there is nothing to be sorry for; the ones where I’m sorry every time I ask for something, be it help or for a boundary to be respected; the ones that are symptoms of me squishing myself inward to take up less space—that have been the constant hum of my twenties."


3. Welcome to the Age of Lawless Masculinity by Ruth Ben-Ghiat | "Illiberal political solutions tend to take hold when increased gender equity and emancipation spark anxieties about male authority and status. A conquest-without-consequences masculinity, posing as a 'return to traditional values,' tracks with authoritarianism’s rise and parallels the discarding of the rule of law and accountability in politics. We commonly associate autocracy with state restrictions on behavior, but the removal of checks on actions deemed unethical in democratic contexts (lying, thievery, even rape and murder) is equally important to its operation and appeal."


Bonus read: Joy by Zadie Smith


Books | Here are the things we've read so far this week. Some are duplicates from earlier QKs. But we've been enjoying them. Starting them, finishing them, thinking about them.

  1. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng | We kicked it off with a novel. And quickly realized: Do we read fiction? How does fiction work? Does not reading fiction on the regular stunt the power of our imagination? Is this why people want to ban books from libraries? Because imagining other worlds is too terrifying? Or because imagining anything just escapes them now? Fiction seems to be in short supply and absolutely essential. (Also, Alexandra Petri makes some good points here about books in general. And their potency and power.)

  2. The Making of Biblical Womanhood by Beth Allison Barr | For real, if you haven't read this, do it now. We loved it. If you want a copy, we'll even send you one. (Limited to the first reader request only.)

  3. Smile: The Story of a Face by Sarah Ruhl | If you've had a baby or Bell's Palsy or a baby and Bell's Palsy or, for that matter, twins. Or, honestly, if you're a woman (or other human) in the world who has thought about the limits of our bodies and the meaning of a face, this is for you.

  4. A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans | We maybe read this 9 years too late and too close to the Making of Biblical Womanhood for it to hold up. Post-Trump and post Kristen Kobes du Mez and Beth Allison Barr and a few other things, it isn't what it once was. But it is an awfully good glimpse into the barriers that Rachel Held Evans knocked down for other women who grew up in evangelical households. Without this, those other books might not have been possible.

  5. The Library Book by Susan Orlean | Reads like a novel. She's a gifted author. And her passion for people and buildings and books and libraries makes it a joy to read. She's also hilarious on twitter if you don't already follow her.

  6. Reputation: Portraits in Power by Marjorie Williams | First things first, Marjorie Williams was a gifted writer of political profiles. No one did it better. Second, she died far too young. Third, get yourself a partner like Timothy Noah, her widower, who so admired her writing and recognized the singular brilliance of her voice that he published not one but two posthumous volumes of her work. The Woman at the Washington Zoo and Reputation. Admittedly, we didn't read all the essays in here this week. But we did dig into a few: Laura Ingraham (remember, these essays are from the 90s so this was particularly fascinating and we *highly* recommend it), Anna Quindlen, Colin Powell.

  7. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward | Just started. We'll report back soon.


Movies

  1. Flirting with Disaster

  2. Lost Girls

  3. Elizabeth


TV Shows

  1. The Great | Season 2

  2. Great British Baking Show Collection 9

  3. Dead to Me


Twitter Follows

  1. Caring Across Generations @caringacrossgen | A movement of Americans of all ages and backgrounds to spark connections across generations to strengthen family and caregiving relationships.

  2. Supermajority @supermajority | Supermajority and our Education Fund (tweets signed #SMEdFund) are building a powerful, diverse, women-led future where we are truly equal.

  3. National Domestic Workers Alliance @domesticworkers | The National Domestic Workers Alliance organizes domestic workers in the United States for respect, recognition and labor standards.


Recipes

  1. Pumpkin bread with chocolate chips | The chips aren't in the original recipe. We still highly recommend them, especially if they are semi-sweet.

  2. Cranberry pecan bread

  3. Turkey enchiladas with green molé sauce | Our dear friends over at Bunches & Bunches have you covered! Put this on all the things. (While you're on the website, Snaps are the best cookies in the world.)

Unsolicited Opinions

  1. Never cross a picket line.

Wirecutter's virtual picket lines might be less obvious than, say, the John Deere picket line (which was pretty darn effective) (and, btw, John Deere ended the year with record profits). But that changes nothing. Never cross a picket line.


2. One of the most overlooked reasons for getting a vaccine is because it can help to reduce the incidence of mutations. We're in for a new one, mutation, that is. (They named it today. The WHO skipped over the Greek letter Nu and went straight to Omicron, presumably to avoid confusion in daily conversation). Anyway. It isn't over. It is far from over. Go get vaxxed.


3. The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which can mean grace, graciousness, gratefulness. "Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier" breaks it down and also looks at all the studies that show exactly how good gratitude is for you and the people around you. One example: "One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. They also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation." Here are just a few ways to cultivate gratitude:

  • Write a thank you note.

  • Thank someone.

  • Keep a gratitude journal.

  • Count your blessings.

  • Pray.

  • Meditate.

  • Follow Rep. Shelly Duncan's example and post your gratitude daily.

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