March 7, 2024


We spent last weekend at a spa.

It was decadent and delightful: my parents were taking care of the little one for the weekend so L and I were able to have a couple of days to relax and unwind and just enjoy each other’s company. Our meals were prepared for us (and they were delicious!), we were able to sleep in a bit, and we whiled away the hours in activities and spa sessions and soaking in the waters.

It struck me, as we were soaking in the thermal pool one evening, that being at a spa like this didn’t allow for the busy-ness of the world to creep in. For a good chunk of the day, we didn’t look at our phones; we couldn’t, mostly because you couldn’t bring a phone with you into a massage, and definitely not in the waters. Most of what we did forced us to be either together in conversation, or alone with our thoughts—we were free of many of the distractions that otherwise fill our days.

There is a lovely peace that sets in when you’ve been distraction-free for a little while. I relish being lost in my own thoughts, but don’t always get the opportunity—or make the opportunity—when I’m at home to sit and do nothing. Being at the spa forced me to do just that: to be engaged in conversation with myself, to be entertained by what was in my head rather than what was going on outside.

I’ve taken that serenity into my week, and have made more effort to carve out more time where I am not distracted. I have taken walks in the park without my headphones (it has been unseasonably warm so all the birds are singing) and sat on my favorite chair at home, basking in the sun, letting my eyes glaze over as I focused solely on my ponderings.

It can be daunting to be bored” (though I’d argue that being alone with your ruminations is anything but boring) in a world engineered to keep us distracted and busy. It can also, however, be therapeutic to discover the deliciousness and delight of being in your own head for some time. I don’t need the spa and it’s therapeutic waters to give me the escape I need (though I wouldn’t turn down another trip there), but instead can carve out that escape by getting lost in my thoughts, seeking refuge in the solitude of my mind.

A poem

Jean Toomer

Within this black hive to-night
There swarm a million bees;
Bees passing in and out the moon,
Bees escaping out the moon,
Bees returning through the moon,
Silver bees intently buzzing,
Silver honey dripping from the swarm of bees
Earth is a waxen cell of the world comb,
And I, a drone,
Lying on my back,
Lipping honey,
Getting drunk with that silver honey,
Wish that I might fly out past the moon
And curl forever in some far-off farmyard flower.

Should Modern Newspapers Publish Poetry? (Yes, more poetry everywhere!):

Art has always been somewhat of a cultural artifact which has the capacity to portray and encapsulate the state of society and humankind in a given time period. Poetry is no different; as mentioned previously, during the Victorian era, poetry captured the chaos and confusion that came with scientific advancements as it provided an alternative source to find a purpose in life. […]

In the whirlwind of today’s society, poetry has found itself fighting for attention against newer art forms such as film and music. Movies and music have seamlessly captured the raw emotions and societal complexities that once danced within the lines of poems and they have done so in a manner that is outwardly more entertaining and approachable. All the while, poetry has taken a dramatic shift and evolved into an art form that is highly confessional and often accompanied by illustrations and other visuals. It is certainly possible that this increasingly personal style of poetry has not appealed to all enthusiasts of this genre and this may attribute to a decline in readership.

As someone who spent hours in bookstores when I was younger, this is a great call to action: bring back the big, comfortable bookstore reading chair.

I don’t live a very big life, so I often think about how I will be remembered, if at all, by generations to come. An ode to sentimental clutter:

Most of my relations, my father included, did not lead particularly big lives. Their names are not carved into buildings or attached to scholarships. Only a handful of people think of them still, and one of those people is me. But their personal possessions remain and say: Someone was here. As I go about my day, folding laundry, or thinking through what needs to be done, my clutter reminds me of the people who have filled my life and, now, my apartment.

In the last four decades, the United States has outlawed lead paint, phased out asbestos and curtailed tobacco marketing and sales. Similar policies can be used for fossil fuels.” I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but banning fossil fuels seems like an interesting and provocative way to address climate change.

You can’t be too happy, literally:

It seems obvious—almost axiomatic!—to say that humans like” to feel good. But maybe we like to feel a certain amount of good. That’s the logic behind control systems (or as biologists might call them, homeostatic mechanisms”): you need the right amounts of everything, and too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

Wear clothes that belonged to loved ones:

For many of us, our clothing are how we express our personality, our dreams, our best understanding of ourselves. People who thrift know that clothing belonged to characters, clothing are a way of sharing history. Knowing this, shouldn’t we seek to wear more of each other’s clothes, sizing and geography permitted?

Looking back on the humblest newsletter platform:

A decade later, from within a decaying media ecosystem that increasingly treats every story as indistinguishable pieces of content” and an internet being consumed by a torrent of AI spam, the smallness of TinyLetter still feels like it was so much more than that. I don’t know if the platform created a moment unto itself, or if it was the last gasp of a certain kind of internet writing. All I know is that as TinyLetter sunsets, something dies with it.

In defense of defensiveness (shared this with some managers at work this month since its performance review time):

We should not be surprised that after a few years of rolling and arbitrary layoffs delivered by email that everyone is reaching for their hilt whenever a breeze rustles the leaves. We should not be surprised that unpopular RTO plans have people wandering the corridors with their shields high. We need to recognize that policies that say someone with COVID should show up to work signal that we live in a culture that values productivity more than it values life. Under these circumstances, a defensive posture is not only expected, it’s wise.

I didn’t know there was an annual Dance Your PhD” contest, but it makes me want to go back to school and write a dissertation just so I can enter.

I’m a bit of a Drag Race fanatic, so any profile of RuPaul is going to make my reading list. Also worth reading: Saeed Jones’ not-so-glowing review of RuPaul’s new memoir.

Really good insight on the restaurant industry: what chefs really think about tipping, diners and the industry.

Sean Boots, who is always brilliant, explains how the ArriveCAN debacle can lead to better digital investment in staff and expertise in government.

The New York Times has a new game out and I’m already addicted. The first few have been pretty easy, but I’m sure they’ll get harder as time goes on.

And the best way to go into the weekend: a mashup of Jurassic Park, Dinosaurs, and Jay-Z. Brilliant.

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