Family Man

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know what a conventional political race is supposed to look like. For the first thirty years of my life, I lived in Illinois, where four of our most recent seven governors ended up in jail. Political ads there might as well skip to the point with slogans like "slightly less corrupt than the other guy you could vote for" or "only embezzles on Wednesdays."

In Tennessee, meanwhile, the postcards I've received this month all start off listing qualities like "Sunday school teacher" and "upstanding citizen" and "family man."

The last one hit me like a ton of bricks earlier this week, as I realized none of the women running for office listed "family woman." In fact, I've never in my life heard the phrase "family woman"—presumably because it's considered redundant. No one applauds a woman for spending time with her children; instead, they belittle her if she dares to pursue goals outside of being a caretaker and homemaker.


They get to award themselves a TITLE and probably a TROPHY if they can manage to glance at their children after a hard day's work of embezzling, and I'm here to report that this is still STUPID.

A Hot Mess of Hot Takes

Even though I haven't blogged regularly in a year or two, I still keep a running list of blog post ideas in OmniFocus—in the hopes that I can shame myself into writing, maybe? (I'm sorry, Brené Brown.) Some of the ideas will require many weeks of thoughtful drafting and editing to do them justice, some have long since expired and will never see the light of day, and a few are just hot takes that I will now share with reckless abandon.

  • Audiobooks are not the same as traditional books. If you love audiobooks, rock on. I have no beef with you or your audiobooks. But to say that the two things are interchangeable is a lie. I pick up so many new words by seeing them spelled out in written text, and (here is the heart of the issue) half of the fun of reading a good book for me is seeing and appreciating the punctuation. I would miss all of that with audiobooks, so as long as I have my eyesight, I will be banning all audiobooks from my library.
  • Surviving a bitter winter will make you a better person. I have a loosely developed theory that cities like San Francisco and Portland are filthy because the weather is too moderate. In Chicago, you cannot leave your mounds of dirty man-child laundry all over the damn street because Winter Is Coming™. You cannot live under a bridge forever and call it "art" or "the next start-up" because Winter Is Coming™. You have to sort your shit out at least by September every year if you are going to survive, and the result is a community of fierce—albeit slightly insane—people who have a much firmer grasp on reality (and who get to live in a clean city).
  • Self-driving cars should be focused exclusively on elderly and special needs people first. To think that able-bodied individuals will cede control to a robot without question is naïve. But if you offered my blind but independent grandmother a way to get out of the house again, she would bake you cinnamon rolls every day for the rest of your life. She's 91 years old but stubborn enough to outlive you to fulfill that promise. And the same could be said for the millions of people who are perfectly capable of navigating their everyday lives but who cannot drive due to (short-term or long-term) physical, mental, or emotional limitations.
  • Tickling is a form of torture. I had many recurring nightmares as a child, and one of them was a dream about the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz, who would sneak into my bedroom and tickle me with very long fingernails until I couldn't breathe. I would wake up in a panic—sweating and screaming—which should tell you how much I hated it. (My mom eventually recommended pouring water on the witch to melt her the next time I had the dream. I did, and I never had the dream again. Thanks, Mom.)
  • People who do gross shit on airplanes should be put in sky jail. A year ago, I was on a flight back from San Francisco to Chicago. There were six seats in a row, three on either side of the aisle. The two seats closest to me were empty, but after the flight took off, a woman from across the aisle moved over and settled in. By "settled in," I mean that she took off her shoes and her socks and put her bare feet on the seat between us and then proceeded to scratch her feet and legs for two full hours—dead skin flying in every direction—while I gave her every glare and horrified, angry, murderous nonverbal signal in the book. Every single part of that is an actual crime, and I want her to pay for her crimes.

Skirts with Pockets

Welcome to Skirts with Pockets, a weekly collection of the online articles, websites, and other links that I've loved and now want to share with you. Please excuse any stray candy wrappers that fall to the ground as I empty my virtual pockets.

Daring Fireball | The Deck, Adieu

Some of my favorite sites of the last decade were supported by ads from The Deck, and I always thought well of both sides of that partnership—the authors for choosing a classy ad platform and the ad platform for being classy. It was nice to hear that so many authors valued that partnership, as well.

See One, Do One, Teach One

I subscribe to Paul's email newsletter (from two different email accounts! and I don't even mind!), and while he always has interesting stuff to share, this particular piece really stuck with me. I get stuck in the "see one" phase a lot and am too scared to "do one" and definitely not brave enough to "teach one." (In fact, I've been trying to come up with an online class or ebook I could offer to make some extra money, and I keep telling myself I don't have anything to teach.) As always, I am grateful for the reminder to do more—more succeeding and more failing.

John Coltrane Draws a Picture Illustrating the Mathematics of Music

I found joy in doing ratios with my dad long before I learned to appreciate piano lessons, but I've always loved math and music fiercely—and the fact that the two are linked.

How Poverty Changes the Brain

There is no way I can relate to someone who grew up in poverty, but I do relate to getting overwhelmed by stress and anxiety to the point where I cannot rationally break down big problems into manageable steps. Working on it. But I'm fascinated (and delighted) to learn that people are studying this phenomenon and hoping to help break the cycle of generational poverty using science.

Ethan Marcotte | Device Intervention

Until I moved to rural Tennessee, I had never experienced really bad Internet connections on a long-term basis. Do you know how fun it is to watch every frame of every animated GIF load on Twitter or Tumblr? It is zero fun. Think of me and my fellow cave trolls next time you build a site entirely out of video backgrounds and gigantic parallax images and bloated WordPress plug-ins.

Vintage Illustrations for Tolkien's The Hobbit from Around the World

This. This. This. More of this.