Friday Links

“The best way to predict your future is to create it”
― Peter F. Drucker

In between Monday and now I’ve helped put on two events, mostly completed newly revamped marketing strategies for two incredible development projects, received an amazing work opportunity to expand and grow in what I’ve been doing with the company, and spent 71 collective hours in high heels. Not for the faint of heart, but deeply rewarding. A busy week and now freelance calls over the weekend, plus finishing the first read of a friend’s new novel. And napping. I’m very much looking forward to it! Here are your links, short but interesting, and tell me what you’re getting up to in the comments!

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I’ve been trying to repair the damages of the 90s to my eyebrows for years, so this is relevant to my interests.

A fascinating piece on poverty in America and what some people think we need to do to fix it. I find it compelling. Economist and like-minded minions weigh in.

From deep to shallow, words can’t express how much I long to own this Oscar de la Renta gown.

And back to deep with this interesting piece from Salon about writing, money, and partners. I may have to do a whole post on this myself. I don’t feel “sponsored” by my husband, in fact for the first five years of our marriage I was the primary wage earner and the work I’m currently doing means that I’m once again earning more than him in spite of his hefty two degrees and experience. But no question, there have been periods where if we relied on my income from writing alone, rather than his far more steady one, we’d have starved.

Settling somewhere nicely between medatative and glib, this piece from the Economist (of all places) on swearing.

There is now a gender imbalance in the world to the tune of 60 million more men than women, the cultural effects of which are fascinating (and often disturbing, especially in countries which have a history of preferring male children and practicing infanticide to achieve it). This map project tackles the issue, region by region, with tons of fascinating info. To quote a friend, what is UP with the Arabian Peninsula?

An interesting profile.

One of my friends and co-freelancers, Tara Zirker is woman on the rise. I’ve worked for and with her for two years now as she’s built her success with her freelance clients and helped me build my own on both sides of the pond. Simply put, the woman is good people. I’m beyond pleased she’s taking things to the next level and offering coaching, training, and workshops this year! Her first workshop of 2015 is happening tomorrow, and there’s a discount code for Small Dog Syndrome minions interested in participating: Cadence15.

Emails With Friends: Mystery and Method Acting

“Also, for your daily dose of Clueless Writing Inspiration, I literally knew nothing about diving when I started [nameless novel here], and now I have gone drinking with Olympians, have a chronic diving-related injury, and can pretty accurately score elite-level dives as well as describe any dive based on its numbers.”
“Are you saying I need to kill someone to write a good mystery? I question your methods.”
– Katarina and C.


Friday Links (It’s Definitely Not Friday, Edition)

“Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work.”
― Gustave Flaubert

This week I edited a major property development sales brochure, organized a last minute PR and media strategy and launch, dealt with a breach of said strategy that appears to be a rather hamfisted attempt of an external team on the project to jump the gun, organized two major sales events taking place next week, developed project budgets that are several tens of times what I make in a year, and generally averaged about 16 work hours a day. So…let’s pretend it’s Friday and this is on time alright? Thanks, dears.

It’s been a rough first month of the year work-wise. Not in terms of the kind of work I’m doing–I consider myself the luckiest of lucky ducks to able to work on the projects I am and with the people that I do. Not only am I doing interesting and fun work, but it’s the kind I enjoy and want keep building experience in. But moving forward it’s clear I need to insist on balance and guard my free time and weekends much better than I currently do. I learned last year that it’s possible to literally work yourself sick and I have no desire to repeat that experience!

A history of the Lifetime Original Movie. Seriously.

I love every single thing about this story.

Interesting story about a great medical/cosmetic treatment that I never even thought of but, honestly, what a good idea!

Excellent and needed follow up to that 100 years of beauty vid that made the rounds late last year, here’s 100 year of Black beauty trends!

Yep. (Weeps silently to herself.)

Interested in reconstituted Babylonian song and poetry? Of course you are, ducklings!

These chairs. They distress me.

The captioned adventures of George Washington can move over, Napoleon has arrived.

Friday Links (Limping Through the Door Edition)

“I am somewhat exhausted; I wonder how a battery feels when it pours electricity into a non-conductor?”
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Dying Detective

Another Friday, another week spent pulling 9-10 hour days in an office and 3-6 hours at home freelancing. I am WIPED, kittens. Here are your links, extra long to make up for my continued negligence. Forgive me?

Here's where I had a recent work meeting for you to look at as a peace offering?

Here’s where I had a recent work meeting for you to look at as a peace offering?

T&C has some It Girls for you to rank. Agree with the list, disagree, have your own list? Share away!

Downton Abbey has come and gone here in the UK for another year, but my American friends are just getting to dive into season…5?  Golly, they’re blending together. Anyway, if you don’t already, you should be reading Tom and Lorenzo’s recaps, this one of the first episode stateside is even more hilarious than typical. Although language warning for pearl-clutchers. “Fold this,” might be my new favorite put down.

Women’s issues to be aware of, and Charlize Theron making a point.

Building my new 100 books in a year reading list

There has been a lot of uproar about the TLC feature, My Husband’s Not Gay, featuring Mormon gay men who have chosen to marry women. I have acres of opinions about the underlying cultural and doctrinal issues, but the best and most thoughtful piece I’ve seen written on the subject comes from the Atlantic. It’s genuinely worth examining why people make lots of the cultural and religious choices they do. TLC specials are beyond not the way to do it.

Gorgeous photos of tribal markings from the Karo People.

I want to go to there.”

Heavens, we’ve gotten lazy as a society

My parents got me some drinking chocolate for Christmas, apparently based off an 18th century recipe. I haven’t sampled it yet just due to lack of time to sit down and whip up a cup (how sad does that sound), but I’m making it a priority after reading this piece.

Historical mis-attribution.

A fun London-y instagram feed for you to follow.

Answer: not terribly well. But likely much better than the 15th century, when I would probably have managed to get burned at the stake.

Well dressed male stars are, I’m convinced, doing the lord’s work when it comes to ramping up sartorial expectations. But I do live in London, the world capital of men’s tailoring, where the bar is much higher than the States. Follow your British brethren, boys.

What your LBD said about you, throughout history.



Friday Links (First of 2015 Edition)

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Well, hey there, well-beloved-but-desperately-neglected minions! We’re back from the States, back at work, and back at the grindstone. Let’s catch up. Jeff has dived straight into studying for his next round of exams (we’re down to less than a year of this slog), and I’m back freelancing and in the world of London luxury development. The first couple of week of a new year are always a bit hectic, but we might be setting a new record for post-holiday self-destruction. Luckily, there a few things keeping us sane.

We finally coughed up the money for a shiny new laptop that is causing me to coo, “the precious…” every time I open its sleek lid. It’s long overdue. I’ve been using a refurbished laptop we bought for about $400 at least three years ago that’s been getting increasingly clunky and hard to manage over the last year. When I couldn’t have two windows open at the same time without the whole thing freezing, I knew it was time to let Marvin go to his rest. Let’s just hope all my image and music files transfer over alright.

The intrepid Caitlin Kelly is in town and crashing at our place this week as she journeys around the city, conducts research and interview for assignments, and generally puts us all to shame with her pace. Last weekend, completely backward due to jetlag, we all went out on the town and had some much needed adventuring. We ate good food, had great conversations, and did some truly impressive vintage shopping. Caitlin’s got the touch for spotting a deal, let me tell you!

Less immediately important, but still pretty vital, I finally got my local library card and might actually have made headway in getting a British bank account. Long story, will rant later. In the meantime, I’m putting together budget proposals of numbers so high as to give me a nosebleed, working with a grade-A creative team and a world class illustrator, and checking off new items from my list with satisfying ticks. Here are your links, catch me up on your holidays and tell me what you’re up to this weekend in the comments!

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Enjoy a shot from me on assignment in Notting Hill. Much as I whine, life’s pretty decent, kittens.


Some people have more…something…than sense. Not sure it’s money.

You lucky ducks, Caitlin is blogging her adventures (plus tips on renting flats in Paris).

Unsure about the background of Tolkien’s mythology? CPG Grey is here to help.

Jezebel gives a pretty good account of the “fluffication” of this history surrounding Empress Elisabeth of Austria.

Headline of the week, I feel.

I barely use my iPod for music anymore, it’s all podcasts through and through, so this list from Medium about interesting podcasts from 2014 (minus Serial, because obviously) hooked me.

Women’s issue news worth sharing and a cause worth supporting.

Since I’m still working in London housing, this is fascinating.

Ah, journalism.

Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail forever.

A response that moved me on the attack in Paris, a city where Caitlin is just visiting us from and returning to at the weekend. Thoughts for safety all around, please.

An 18th century time capsule opening.

Year in Review: The Heavy Stuff

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..”
― John Milton, Paradise Lost

2014 was the year that I officially stepped away from the religious community of my youth. The break really happened long before but a lot of things happened this year to confirm to me that it was the best decision I could have made for me. The reactions to this decision have run the gamut but the only ones that have confused me have been people who felt it necessary to offer their hearty congratulations for my choice.

As if the decision were not the most wrenching and difficult of my life. One that took a solid decade of increasing frustration, heartache, painful doubt, and baffling alienation to accomplish. I was fortunate to actually have a supportive partner along every step of the way for the second half of that decade and I still managed to feel desperately lonely in the crumbling I felt going on internally and externally. There was nothing heroic about my decision to leave my religion. It signified that I had run out of any other options–faithful, emotional, cultural, or otherwise–and to be in that position is the most angry and emotionally exhausted I have ever been in my life.

Think it’s easy to walk away from your religion? Trust me, it is not. In one big go I opted out of a community, a culture, a language, a heritage, and a legacy precious to almost every member of my family and a significant chunk of my friends. I disappointed and confused a lot of people who’s good opinion I value deeply. I put peculiar strains on my friendships and my marriage that took holding on tight and communicating hard to navigate thoughtfully and intelligently. I turned my back on an entire cosmology and worldview without really having much solid in place to replace it with, and now have the task of building a new one after nearly 20 years of certainty and 10 of crippling doubt.

I don’t want to be congratulated. Honestly there are days that, in thinking about it, all I want is a hug!

I’m lucky I came out on the other side of my decision feeling as little damage as I do. I’ve had friends and acquaintances make similar decisions in the same or similar religious communities and pay horrible prices for it. But in spite of that laundry list of angst above this, I am actually in a more calm and steady place than I’ve been in years, emotionally or spiritually speaking. Uncertainty is not nearly has bad as I had been made to feel for most of my life. For years now I’ve felt like I was clinging to a rope desperately in the dark, knowing that the drop would kill me if it happened. The more my grasp tightened in panic, the more numb my fingers got, the more the strength gave out in my arms, the harder and harder I would cling, but still I would slip. Several months ago, the last slip happened and the final strands slid out of my clutch. And it turns out the floor was just inches beneath my feet the whole time.

It’s disorienting, to find your worldview gone but your own feet steady beneath you. It feels oddly like peace.

Year in Review: Books

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
― Jane Austen

This year I set out to read 100 books, and I managed it. I was feeling proud until I heard that the indomitable Janssen read at least 150 and immediately felt unlearned by comparison. Ah well. It’s not like I’ll run out of novels.

2014 was the year I set aside literary snobbery and took Nancy Pearl’s advice to just read everything. Fiction, nonfiction, history, poetry, mystery, trashy novels, biography, YA, classics, contemporary, self-help…you get it. It’s a trend I intend to continue in 2015. Above all this year, I felt quite suddenly over the idea that I had to justify or defend any of my likes, dislikes, or general preferences, and this is probably clearest in the eclectic-ness of my reading habits. My picks of the year follow, but tell me what books you read and loved, or alternatively loathed, in the comments and why.

Favorite Historical reads:
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, by Charles C. Mann. A follow up to his book 1491 which explores the New World before the Columbian Exchange kicked off, this book a bit dry and info dense (and about the width of textbook), but if you’re a nerd–and of course you are, kittens, because we’re all nerds here–this thing is a revelation.

Favorite women’s issue reads: 
The Handmaiden’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. Yes, I just read that cover to cover for the first time this year. Let’s not discuss it.
Reading Lolita in Tehra, by Azar Nafisi. I have never appreciated my education and opportunities as a female so much in my life as when I put this book down, but nor I have ever been as aware of how quickly things can go so badly in a society or a religious community based on bad intentions.

Most jarring read:
We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart. Mostly because the main character is named “Cadence,” and that’s just wrong.

Didn’t-stick-the-landing reads:
The Thursday Next Series, by Jasper Fforde. Let me be clear, I inhaled every one of these books I could get a hold of beginning in winter 2013, but I’ve felt the books getting weaker as they go. Which is vexing because the first handful are so hilarious and witty and clever. Perhaps I shall do with this series what I do with the 5th Indiana Jones movie and the last dozen or so Pirates of the Caribbean films. Specifically, pretend they never happened.
Across the Universe Series, by Beth Revis. A YA science fiction series that explored some interesting themes of culture, free-will, history, and government and then (I callously assume) had to be wrapped up in a trilogy leading to a confused and frustrating final book.

Best biographical read:
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch, by Sally Bedel Smith. A very engaging read about one of the most famous women in the world who I would never, ever refer to as a “celebrity.”

Most “meh” series:
The Luxe Series, by Anna Godbersen. After rave reviews by a lot of friends…this is just Gossip Girl in corsets.

Best nonfiction read:
Consider the Fork: How Technology Transforms the Way We Cook and Eat, by Bee Wilson. The habits, techniques, and standards of cookery through (admittedly mostly Western, but with a decent amount of world history thrown in) through the ages. Medieval chefs apparently mostly cooked naked

Favorite novel:
Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson. Fractal storytelling at it’s best, a life is lived and all its potentials followed through, some of them in surprising ways. Stop what you are doing and find a copy immediately.

The Worst Book I Read All Year:
From Ashes, by Molly McAdams. I unequivocally hated this book. I tried to write a decent Goodreads summary as to why this book was dreadful, but the size of the task before me was too daunting and I was forced to sum up, “Abusive damseling at its finest.” This book is the worst lifetime movie ever made, during which mad executives decided to up the improbability of every plot point and the baselessness of every character to pathological degrees, and had the whole thing edited by unstable tweens for good measure. The depth of my feelings on this one shocks even me.