Tag Archives: Communicatrix

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some recommended reading for the weekend.

1. I feel about Michael Kinsley the way I feel about Michael Lewis:  if he’s writing, I’m reading. Here’s Kinsley in his debut Politico column writing about that rare commodity in American politics and journalism: intellectual honesty.

2. I loved this touching essay about marriage, parenting and what we learn from our kids’ drawings by Cecilia (of the fabulous Only You blog), which was featured in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star’s Cribsheet column. We’ve all been there, I think.

3. For a beautiful visual history of modern art, have a look at the Modern Art Timeline. Way Cool.

4. Also in the department of visual – and funny – here’s a slide show of “Chinglish” (Chinese meets English) at The New York Times. I must say, it’s really hard to top “Fragrant, Hot Marxism.”

5. If you want another really good laugh, check out the “If You Do This In An Email, I Hate You” comic strip at The Oatmeal.com. (Hat Tip: ‘Cross The Pond)

6. Then be sure to go and read the entire entry – “Snakes In A Bar” – at Dating Experiences Of A Woman…In Hollywood. It brings whole new meaning to the concept “bad date.” (Hat tip: Communicatrix)

7. Finally – and definitely not for those who dislike profanity – here’s a mock Twitter Feed for Chicago Mayor Hopeful Rahm Emanuel called @MayorEmanuel. I think they’ve managed to nicely capture Rahm’s…um…voice.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some worthwhile reading around the blogosphere:

1. In light of ongoing attention to the Special Relationship between the United States and Great Britain, here’s a little video gem from The Guardian about other paintings Barack Obama and David Cameron might have exchanged.

2. The International Herald Tribune recently ran two fabulous op-eds on what it’s like to travel in this day and age. Click here for Alex Beam’s glorious taxonomy of Americans abroad. And here’s Bob Greene explaining what hotel gift bags tell us about our obsession with sleep.

3. The ever-reliable Nicola Morgan of Help! I Need A Publisher! Fame pointed me to this post by A. Victoria Mixon, Editor about six personality types who will succeed as writers.

4. One of my favorite British bloggers, Jennifer Howze – (whom some will know as the founding blogger of the Times On Line’s Alpha Mummy blog) – has launched her own blog. Please stop by and visit Jenography, a blog about “kids, London life and the world beyond.”

5. Finally, in the department of weird things you must see, please check out the new tattooed LEGOs over at Bit Rebels.

6. You will also want to take in country flags made from that country’s favorite foods at Good blog. (Hat tip: Communicatrix)

As always, please do follow me on Twitter.

Have a nice weekend!

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. As someone who’s been pondering middle age quite a bit lately (here and here), I was quite taken with this post by Raina Kelley at Newsweek where she lays out some mid-life crisis rules to live by. (Note to self: No naked skyping!)

2. If you’re a mom, a wife or both, be sure to check out this CafeMom quiz that lets you rank yourself as a parent and a spouse. (Hat tip: Motherlode)

3. I laughed out loud at his essay in McSweeneys where the author writes from the perspective of life as a comic sans font. Hilarious! (Hat tip: Writer Abroad) Also in McSweeneys, Eloise (of story book fame) turns 23. (Hat tip: Communicatrix)

4. Writers will wince in recognition at this arch  blog by a literary agent entitled SlushPileHell, where the agent lists – and then disses – the kinds of claims authors make in their cover letters. Ouch! (Hat tip: Lisa Romeo Writes)

5. A new (to me) blog on creativity which a thoughtful reader pointed me towards: Strangling My Muse.

6. Finally, I really enjoyed this essay in the Brown Alumni Monthly by Jamie Metzl on the perils of wikipedia fame.

Follow me on Twitter!

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. I’m a sucker for understated British humor. Here’s a hysterical post in The Guardian by the British actor/writer/comedian David Mitchell on the new toilet-paper free toilet.

2. Also funny is Stuff White People Like’s take on why white people like the World Cup.

3. For the avid readers out there, here are the top five children’s books for grown-ups from Brain Pickings. I’m especially fond of The Little Prince.

4. I haven’t seen Sex and The City 2 (nor do I plan to) but this scathing review at The Stranger made me laugh out loud. (Hat tip: Communicatrix.)

5. In light of my recent post on frugality, I loved this article in Mint about how to go on a date without breaking the bank. (Hat Tip: @urbanmusewriter who wrote it!)

6. Finally, in the Department of Cool, check out this video on Gimundo about what Los Angeles would look like without cars. (Hat tip: The Happiness Project)

And, as always, please do follow me on Twitter!

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Saying Goodbye to My Mews House: A Poem

I’ve long been of the mind that right before you give something up – a car…a neighborhood…definitely a relationship – you allow yourself to be annoyed by that thing.

It’s not that the thing itself has changed in any fundamental way. It’s just that whereas you once focused on the upsides (he’s cute…he’s funny…my mother likes him), you now allow the negatives to creep in (I hate that shirt…please stop chewing like that…kissing you is so boring.) It’s just normal. It’s how we begin to separate before we say goodbye.

In that vein, as I pack up the last bits and bobs around our current house before leaving it permanently on Thursday, I find myself doing precisely that:  allowing myself to hate all the things about this house that I’ve managed to put up with over the past four years.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot to like about this house, which I’ve often described as an exceedingly well-located closet. I wrote a novel here. I started my blog here. And – most important of all – it’s the place that we first moved into when we decided to throw caution to the wind and move our family overseas four years ago. For that reason alone, it will always be special.

And yet, as we stagger towards the finish line, I’m allowing all the negative things I’ve suppressed about the house to come to the fore.

I’m not much of a poet. I usually leave that to the fabulous Communicatrix and her Poetry Thursday series. But as I take my last walk around this house and pick up the errant sock or felt tip (magic marker) cap or MatchAttax card that mysteriously appears – years later – in the obscure corners of our storage space, I find myself moved to wax poetic.

So here it is – my Ode to a Mews House – inspired by that childhood classic, Good Night, Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. I’m calling it Goodnight, Mews:

Goodnight Mews

In the tiny, cobble-stoned street

without a sign

there was a house

and for four years, it was mine.

And though I’ll be sad to see it gone

Here are some things for which I won’t long:


Goodnight kitchen tiles, that never quite fit

and were meant for the wall – not the floor – but tough sh*#.

Good night shower curtain, which hangs by a thread

And the sweaters I was forced to keep under my bed.

Good night builders, who knew nothing of plumbing

and Good night, next-door neighbors who hated my son.

Good night, storage closet that eventually hits earth

and was home to the rats who made our house their berth.

Good night, Toilet Seat from which I would fall

And the miniature fridge that stands two feet tall.

Good night shower that always floods when it rains

And goodnight darling landlord, you were really a pain.

Goodnight stars, Goodnight air

Good night Mewses everywhere.

*****

For those who are interested, head on over to PoliticsDaily.com to see why I think Gordon Brown will lose this election on Thursday.

Image: Pink Mews by tubb via Flickr under a Creative Commons License


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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. In honor of Passover (and my own complicated feelings therein), I highly recommend my friend D.D. Guttenplan’s marvelous column – Blogging the Haggadah – over at The Guardian. (This is part one but links to parts two and three.)

2. I’m nowhere near purchasing an Ipad (or even an Iphone, for that matter) but I was quite taken with this review of the Ipad by David Pogue in the New York Times. Talk about a great product review! And while you’re pondering the Ipad, have a look at this wonderful send-up of the Ipad’s “unveiling” over at gelatobaby. (Hat tip: Communicatrix. Thanks for the shout out, darlin’!)

3. I love stories about letters and letter-writing. Here’s an amazing one from The Washington Post about a woman who found herself in the President’s inbox and how she managed to score a letter from the man himself.

4. I really liked Middle Age Cranky’s take on how aging makes us see things in less black and white terms.

5. It’s the first week of April, which is when many high school seniors will find out where they’ll be going to college next year. I’m quite far away from this whole harrowing experience now, but this mock rejection letter from Harvard by Peter W. Fulham in Politics Daily really made me laugh.

6. And speaking of Politics Daily, I’m over there today talking about the upcoming televised political debates in the UK and why I think British politics is turning American.

Have a great weekend!

And please do follow me on Twitter!

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Coping With Depression: A Poem

Some people I’m close to are going through some difficult times right now. Some are having relationship problems, others are enduring career crises, and some are just very, very low.

So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day – which is, at the end of the day, a celebration of friendship and love – I thought I’d post this poem written by the fabulous Colleen Wainwright of Communicatrix fame.

I’ve been sending it around a lot lately:

For Occasional Blues

When you are low

—and you will be,
just as sure as you
may not be now—

it is good to have
a few necessities in stock
to keep the beasts
at bay.

Like your day at Point Dume,
and that wall of wind pushing back
as you sung the first three lines
of fifty pop songs
against it
while your heart screamed,
my ocean!

Or sinking into the air-cooled comfort
of first show at the Grove
and tucking your chilled toes
up under your tush
as you prepared
to disappear
for two delicious hours

Or the heat of the tarpaper tiles
on the low-slanted roof
as you baked between classes
beside your traveling companion,
passing salted Ruffles
and a half-quart tub of sour cream
back and forth
against the prospect
of imminent minor discomfort.

The trick
if there is one
is to recall specifics
with the precision
of an ichthyologist
aligning individual scales:
the feel of leaning in
the nap of new velour
the slope of the incline

And if you can’t,
make it up

But precisely

God is in the details
even if you are the god
who put them there

and it is through these million
man-made pinholes
that you will reconnect
with the All-That-Is
and find the love
that eludes you now.

Send this to someone you love. We all need a pick-me-up once in awhile…

Image: Depression by Canonsnapper via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons I Love To Blog

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

As some of you know, last Friday was the first anniversary of RealDelia. And while I fully intended to break out the champagne…the confetti…the whole nine yards, somehow I didn’t quite pull it off. (I had hoped that my wife would throw me a party, but she was too busy that day).

So I thought that I would mark the occasion today instead, by telling you five reasons why I love to blog, and why you might like it too:

1. It helps you to find your voice. I have been writing for a long time now in my adult life. I started as a research assistant when I first got out of college. Then there was that long, hazy academic morass when I was a graduate student and then a professor. Over the past three years, it’s been a blend of personal essays, reported features and occasional fiction writing. But it was only once I started this blog that I felt that I finally found my voice as a writer, and realized that – with all my career shifts – that was what I’d been looking for all along.

2. It makes you more mindful as a person. Mindfulness is one of those new-agey terms that I deliberately avoided for awhile. But in fact, one of the great virtues of blogging – at least if you are blogging about your own life and trying to extract lessons from it – is that it makes you more aware of how you lead your life, in ways both large and small. In my own case, one of the major innovations in my personal life was my decision to stop working on Saturdays. And while I can’t attribute that decision entirely to blogging, I think that being in the habit of examining my life on a daily basis (on the blog) gave me the tools to step back and change my life.

3. You make new friends. There’s my e-BFF Sharon, of course – of Neverbloomers fame – whom I first got to know through this blog because of our shared interest in adulthood. Now we’re on Facebook, we Skype one another and I think a professional collaboration may come down the pike. But there are a whole host of people I can think of right off the top of my hat – Colleen, Mike, Kristen, Katy, LPC – to name a few, whom I never would have “met” except through blogging (OK, I did in fact meet Katy once but blogging is our bond.) And I’m so enriched because of those connections.

4. You become more disciplined. Yeah, yeah. It’s trite, I know. But it’s true what they say. When you start writing on a regular basis, it makes you a better writer. Partly because practice makes perfect. But also because you’re able to just sit down and pound it out when you really need to. Which – in my case – has come in really handy over the past nine months that I’ve also been writing for PoliticsDaily.com.

5. You learn a ton. When I started doing this, I thought it would be fun to share my small musings about the world with other like-minded folk. And it has been loads of fun. But it turns out that the best part about blogging is what you learn from other people, either because of a comment they leave on your post, or because you subscribe to their blog, or because you encounter them haphazardly while doing some research on – say – adulthood – and then you end up staying to see what else they’ve got up their sleeve.

In that vein – and to steal a page from Nicola (another great blogger I’ve gotten to e-know), I’d love it if, in the comments section, you’d leave a link to a blog that you really like and which you think I (and readers of RealDelia) should check out. Feel free to leave your own blog’s name. I’d love to come visit.

And most of all, thank you!

Image: Blogging Research Wordle by KristinaB via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

Celebrating the Sabbath: Making Saturdays *Me* Time

I have an announcement to make:  I’m going to start celebrating the Sabbath.

No, I’m not getting in touch with my inner Jew. (For the moment, I think I’ll continue to remain Jew-ish rather than Jewish.)

I’m afraid it’s a much less lofty goal than that. I’ve decided not to work on Saturdays anymore (read: no blogging, no email, no Facebook, no Twitter) so that I can focus more on myself. Or – to put it more accurately – I’d like to designate Saturdays as a day for doing things outside of work that also make me happy.

Yes, I know it’s a radical concept. But as Colleen of Communicatrix fame points out with characteristic wit and insight, it’s really hard to find time for the things we wish to prioritize in our lives unless we make room for them. She’s turning all of January into December so that she can take stock, clear the decks and plunge in with some new projects. Back in November, I took a self-imposed vacation so that I could send out my novel to agents.

The break I have in mind for Saturdays is somewhat different. The above projects are all about carving out space to move forward on the work front. What I have in mind is moving forward on the life front. For as I sat in a Viennese coffee house over the holidays and reflected on my life, I realized that in my never-ending quest to get on top of my to-do list, two things that  bring me true happiness had both fallen by the wayside:   doing yoga and reading The New Yorker.

You see, this is how my mind works. If something gets deemed a necessity in my life, it gets done. If it’s deemed a luxury, it may or may not get done. But if it does get done, that likely only happens around 11:59 p.m. on a Thursday evening with half an eyelid open and the corresponding amount of energy. And because I had begun labeling both yoga and The New Yorker “luxuries,” they just weren’t happening anymore, at least with the regularity that’d like.

So I’m making a change. For the next month – and I’m telling you this because one way you signal a commitment is to give yourself a time-line and say it out loud – I’m going to experiment with assigning myself only two jobs on Saturday – going to yoga and reading The New Yorker. My hope is that if I can do just those two things (with anything else a bonus), I’ll not only be happier, I’ll actually be more productive when I do return to the computer. If this strategy goes well and proves realistic, I’ll commit for the year.

Of course, I’m hoping that this new routine will incur other benefits as well. To wit:

*more face-to-face parenting, rather than shouting commands over my shoulder as I hurtle through my RSS feed

*making a dinner that does not involve something out of a jar from Tesco

*quality time with my husband so that we can watch more DVD commentaries and listen to Garrison Keillor together

*actually playing all those board games that I bought for Hanukkah (BTW: Settlers of Catan? Totally worth it…)

And who knows? Maybe we’ll even make it to synagogue one of these days…

*****

On a much more somber note, here’s a piece I did for PoliticsDaily.com about the ongoing drama surrounding the theft of a sign from Auschwitz.


Image: The New Yorker Fugitive by Rakka via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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Tips For Adulthood: How To Make Time Off Productive

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

Last week I took a self-imposed vacation from this blog in order to focus on marketing my novel. It was an unusual thing for me to do, but I’m so glad that I decided to do it. As the self-development guru Colleen Wainwright – a.k.a. Communicatrix – put it so well in a comment on that post:

“Hardest thing in the world, carving out time for the Not Immediately Necessary. But how else does the big stuff get done?”

How else, indeed?

So in this week’s tip list, I thought I’d share what I learned from that experience and, specifically, how to make “time off” (as in time off to carry out a specific project, as opposed to a vacation) productive:

1. Tell Other People What You Are Doing. Several people – including myself – noted that I wrote a blog post to announce that I wouldn’t be blogging for a week. Why not just…stop blogging for a week? But I did that for a reason. I knew that if I told readers what I was doing and gave myself a time-line, I’d be more inspired to hit my goal. And I did.

2. Cut Distractions. This is obvious, but it bears repeating. Much of the joy that comes from being a blogger doesn’t just come from writing posts, but from reading other people’s blogs, commenting on those blogs, sharing an interesting article on Twitter, etc. Doing all that is a big part of how I come up with my ideas. And while I didn’t stop reading my RSS feed last week (perish the thought!), I did dramatically reduce the amount of time I normally spend in the blogosphere.

3. Stay Focused. Another obvious suggestion, but which also bears repeating. Midway through the week, I realized that I could easily have devoted the entire week just to clearing out my inbox. And by “clearing out my inbox” I don’t mean deleting announcements about “What’s on at The National Theatre” or the latest cure for cancer in homeopathy.  I mean attending to really useful articles and websites I’ve flagged for myself about blogging, writing, publishing, etc. that I *really must read.* But then I reminded myself: Nope, that’s not what I’m doing this week. I”m working on the novel. But that insight did motivate me to take another, future SIV (that’s “self imposed vacation” as opposed to SUV, FYI..BTW..IMHO…ha!) that will just be about blogging best practices.

4. Recognize That You’ll Never Totally Clear Your Inbox. I think I had this fantasy that once I took this large, annoying monkey off my back (e.g. sending out the novel to agents), the sky would magically part and I’d be relaxed and in control of my to-do list. But taking time off also made me realize that, much as I’d like to, I’ll never completely reduce my “to do” list to zero. Because as soon as I take one thing off the list – like “send out novel to agents” – something else immediately moves in to take its place, like “blog promotion.” Sure, there’s all this stuff floating around out there about inbox zero and the Four Hour work week. What-ever. I think for most of us, it’s about reducing our to-do lists to a manageable level and then taking it one step at a time, accepting that whatever we prioritize comes at the expense of other things we’d also – genuinely – like to be doing. That’s just…life.

5. Remember that Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder. One of the best ways to appreciate something in your life is to take a break from it. Your feelings while your away will tell you how much you either totally love it or could actually live without it. Back when I was an academic, I took a year off to work for the United States Treasury Department, precisely in order to see whether I’d miss my life as a professor. I didn’t miss it at all and mailed in my resignation half way through the year. In a similar vein, last week while “not blogging” I realized how much I love this blog and missed both writing it and being part of this community.

And that was the best lesson of all.

*****

If you’re interested, here’s my piece in yesterday’s PoliticsDaily.com about the pro-Israel lobby in the U.K.


Image: Monkey On My Back by Mshai via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.