Weekend Reads

trees covered in snow with the sun rising behind them
The snow at Lake Anna was beautiful; a photo I took from our deck during the power outage

The best laid plans… my family and I rented a lake house in Virginia from the 28th to this past Wednesday, and another family we're friends with joined us from the 29th – 2nd. The plan was that Monday and Tuesday I'd work from the lake house and then Wednesday on the drive home do the kind of work I can do on my phone. This way, I'd have content ready to go Thursday, Friday, today, and Monday. I even told brands I'd be at this cute house and had contracted work based on the locale.

kayaking
Kayaking Monday afternoon in short sleeves

Those in this area can guess what happened. We were at Lake Anna, which is sort of near Richmond. Monday was warm; we went kayaking in t-shirts and took a family walk later in the afternoon without coats. That night it began to snow a heavy wet snow, and it didn't stop until late Tuesday afternoon.

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I took this photo before the power went out. See how charming it all looked? Not too much snow, a warm fire, you can even see the reflection of the kitchen light in the sliding glass door!

Tuesday morning I woke up early before my family, made coffee, and turned on the propane-fueled fireplace/stove in the lake house living room to enjoy the snowfall and the fire. I envisioned kayaking in that light snow later that day. It was very serene and beautiful, and then the lights began to flicker. And then the power went out.

The house is well water, with an electric pump. We were without electricity (including electric heat and kitchen appliances) as well as water. And soon, we were not just without WiFi but also cellular. It was 20 degrees outside and I was so glad I turned on that “charming” fireplace before the power went out as it had an electric starter and otherwise wouldn't have worked.

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Hanging out in the car to charge my phone and listening to the radio to hear about traffic and if power would be restored. I had that seat warmer set to max! You can see how heavy the snow was; we had branches on our car but the snow padded them so there was no damage.

We considered leaving, but there was a major pileup on 95 in Fredericksburg, which was where we had to go through to get home. (Washington Post) The radio said side roads were extremely dangerous and there were power lines and trees downed everywhere. We stayed at the rental house until Wednesday.

lake anna snow
Staying cozy near the stove, dinner cooking on top, enjoying the view with my daughter and our dog

We cooked food on the outdoor propane grill and on top of the fireplace/stove. We took water from the hot tub to flush toilets. We rearranged where we were sleeping to ensure we stayed warm. We even went in the hot tub each day since it remained warm. We made the best of the situation, and with some careful scary driving out of the Lake Anna community (many roads were blocked with power lines on the ground), got to major roads and home safely.

Needless to say, work was not accomplished this week. I am writing this Thursday evening; I spent the day catching up on emails and life in general. Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment and my daughter's birthday lunch in the city (that is if it doesn't get snowed out). Today is my daughter's actual birthday and tomorrow we are to visit relatives for a belated Christmas get-together if all goes well.

Prior to Christmas, I didn't create advanced content because I was burned out. And after the holidays and then this adventurous vacation, I still feel overwhelmed and it's affecting my writing and creativity. But I've found a blogging accountability partner, I have a new therapist, I'm taking time for creative non-work activities, and being gentle with myself.

The new year can be a time for fresh starts and feeling overwhelmed. You can feel like you NEED resolutions, you NEED a new year and new you. But really, right now, it's an accomplishment to be here. I'm taking that and running with it. I am here, and I want to be present too. No resolutions, no goals, no new me. Just being present, and going from there.

One perk of that shower-free no-power part of the vacation is I did paper journaling and I ended up writing down a lot of ideas. I look forward to implementing them, writing about those topics, creating that content. While January has had a slow start at Wardrobe Oxygen, it's not a sign of what the future holds beyond me accepting that life can't be controlled, we all need to focus on quality, not quantity for life as well as wardrobes, and Mother Nature doesn't give a damn about your schedule!

Weekend Reads

I don’t need to become a new person in the New Year. (The Lily)

For plus-size women like me, dressing for joy is a radical act. (The Guardian)

How Jessica Simpson almost lost her name. (Bloomberg)

Once a janitor, now the Bar Mitzvah photography king of Montreal. (New York Times)

Modern America's most successful successionist movement. (The Atlantic)

My friend's life was ruined* by a Magnolia Network Home Makeover. *made worse for quite awhile (Home Culture)

Plan B and body weight. Should I double the dose? (The Vajenda)

The political life of Dr. Oz. (The Intelligencer)

The wild, wonderful world of estate sales. (New Yorker)

“I had been hating my body like it was a job for years and I wasn’t happier, healthier, or thinner. I was just…tired.” (Culture Study)

Your period could change in your 40s—here’s how to manage the shift. (Vogue)

Her Instagram handle was ‘Metaverse.’ Last month, it vanished. (New York Times)

An Afghan girls soccer team rebelled to play the game they love. Now they're refugees. (NPR)

In 2030, you won't own any gadgets. (Gizmodo)

This trip to Lake Anna, we handled the power outage well with what we have. The one thing I wish we did pack was our solar gadget charger. This has been so handy for camping, festivals, and day trips. After this experience, we're keeping this in the car for just in case situations.

We’ve been together 23 years and never lived together. Here’s why it works. (Today)

Women 32% more likely to die after operation by male surgeon, study reveals. (The Guardian)

Insecure: For the first time, every single costume was designed by a Black woman. (Vanity Fair)

Cindy Gallop Is not a relationship person and cannot WAIT to die alone. (YouTube)

See/Hear/Read

See:

I know I am not the only one who watched a heck of a lot more TV and movies over the holiday season! Some were good, some were bad, here are the ones that made an impact:

and just like that episode 5

I dissed the fashion and the old people talk in the SATC reboot, And Just Like That but as I mentioned, I was in for the whole series. And the series began to redeem itself and remind me of why I loved the original by Episode 5. Still full of issues, but it finally tackled real issues by women of that age with humor, heart, and a helluva lot of cringe. I don't think you're missing anything if you don't start the series, but if you noped out after Episode 1, know it does improve.

8 bit christmas

While 8-Bit Christmas has Christmas in the title, I don't think this is a film that needs to be reserved for the month of December. Available on Netflix, this film starring Neil Patrick Harris flashes back to the late '80s and if you were a kid during that time you're going to feel a lot of feels, laugh a lot of laughs, and enjoy the nostalgia enough to not get hung up on the inaccuracies. Very reminiscent of a Goonies/Christmas Story kind of film with a gang of kids who go through adventures together that feels like either how it was as a kid or how you remember it to be through decades-old dusty rose-colored glasses. I never owned a Nintendo, but I still loved this movie.

succession

After hearing everyone and their mother rave about Succession, my husband and I decided to see what it was about. We started Thanksgiving weekend and finished the third season just this past weekend. This show confirms that I never wish to be wealthy, that a lot of money will turn any person evil, that the wealthy are the puppetmasters, and this country is a hot mess. But we just couldn't stop watching it, couldn't stop thinking about it, couldn't stop referencing it. If you haven't seen it, I recommend you don't. I never saw Game of Thrones and can still function in society; you can too without seeing Succession. Just read the news, you get the same info without finding yourself rooting for antiheroes that anger and disappoint you over and over again.

yellowjackets show
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Needing a new series, we started Yellowjackets, which has its first episode on Hulu and Prime. We didn't realize that the show is actually on Showtime, which we didn't have. But we loved the first episode so much we got Showtime as a Christmas present for ourselves. We're I think five episodes in.

yellowjackets showtime

A high school soccer team is heading to Nationals on one of the players' dad's private plane and it crashes in the Canadian wilderness. Those who survive the crash are not saved for 19 months. The show toggles between the late '90s with moments prior to the crash and their attempts at survival and then to current day with a few of the individuals grown up.

yellowjackets juliette lewis

Yellowjackets is gruesome and creepy and funny and creative. It stars Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci and Liv Hewsom who was Drew Barrymore's daughter in Santa Clarita Diet and Melanie Lynskey and many others that may look familiar or will be familiar once this show gets more press and traction. It's not a family show, but it's one we're really into and find gives us far more interesting discussions and thoughts than Succession.

Hear:

I used to be a podcast lover when I had a commute. Even my short commute each workday to and from the gym from 2018-pandemic gave me time to catch up on my favorites. But these days, I can't find many moments to listen to something longer than a couple of minutes. But the holiday season is a time for travel, for running errands, and gave me more time in my car to listen to podcasts.

maintenance phase podcast

And I used that time to catch up on Maintenance Phase, a podcast that is entertaining but also hella informative. Hosted by Michael Hobbes (who you may recognize from the podcast You're Wrong About) and Aubrey Gordon (AKA Your Fat Friend), Maintenance Phase dives in and debunk the junk science behind health and wellness fads.

If that sounds appealing to you, I highly recommend starting with their episode about BMI. Being married to a person who loves his fitness and wellness podcasts, I really enjoyed their episode about the “Sleep Loss Epidemic” as my spouse had told me a few months earlier about a podcast interview he heard with the subject of this ep.

It's important to be educated about your health, but unfortunately much of the information we get from so-called experts, even our doctors, is based on faulty data and straight up lies. This podcast has pushed me to go beyond what a doctor or specialist recommends “for my health,” especially if the first thing that comes out of their mouth is that I need to lose weight.

Read:

I got back into reading this December. I started going through my Kindle to finish any half-read books and read those I purchased and ever started. I finished The Midnight Library (kinda cliche and obvious but an enjoyable read that I could see the movie it will be turned into in my head as I flipped the pages. I wrote a review, I may publish it as a separate piece). And then the next book in my Kindle library was American Dirt.

american dirt

I remembered buying the book and later that same day having Twitter tell me it was a terrible book I shouldn't support so I didn't read it. But in December 2021, I couldn't remember the reason and decided to dig in. It is a riveting novel, and I shared I was reading it on Instagram Stories and had several folks tell me the book was influential and life-changing and even more tell me I am a horrible human being for even reading it and “promoting” it on my platform (I shared a photo of my Kindle and how I clicked a link in the story which made me lose my place in the novel).

american dirt centerpieces
Centerpieces at the book launch, I kid you not. Source: the author's tweet

I am grateful to those who didn't shame me for my book choice, but sent me articles to explain why American Dirt is a problematic novel. It reminded me of why I never read it, but I chose to finish the book anyway so I could be better informed about the controversy. If you read the book, or if you have no idea what I am talking about, here are some really good articles to check out to understand:

There are many more articles, but these give a good idea of the situation “from both sides” and can help you understand why this book may be entertaining, riveting, but incredibly problematic.

For Your Entertainment

mitski

This video is thanks to my daughter, who turned 13 years old today and was the only one in our family who had any music downloaded on Spotify for us to listen to on vacation when the power was out. She is a big fan of Mitski, a Japanese-American singer-songwriter who has her sixth album coming out this spring. I had heard Mitski before and liked her, but listening to her music by the light of the fireplace with no other distractions gave me the space to truly listen, appreciate, and understand why my daughter is such a big fan. Enjoy.


9 Comments

  1. Starly
    January 9, 2022 / 10:09 pm

    Happy New Year!!!

    Ack! I am sorry your vacation turned into snowpocalypse. I had a similar experience here in Austin last Feb, and it really took it out of me. I needed a week to recover just from that and I still feel somewhat traumatized.

    I watched 8 bit Christmas as someone who was 11 in 1985 with my 11-year-old daughter. I felt really called out by that movie 😛 We really enjoyed it.

    My only new year’s resolutions involved ordering freshly baked bread more often and trying new kinds of cheese. We are planning to start a few new things soon. I enjoy the freshness of January and how it makes me think about what’s working and what’s not, but I like to ease my way into any changes or newness.

    Loved the video! I’ll have to see if my daughter knows about her, I bet she will dig it.

  2. Haydee Garcia
    January 9, 2022 / 2:53 am

    WOW, I am so glady y’all are health and safety. I sure it was hard but it gave you and need break from all the work, has given you break to have some real family time. As much as enjoy the fashions, etc, this post was great and I need some recomandation on what to watch. Thank you.
    Happy Birthday Emerson! I remember being so Happy to finally be a REAL G

  3. Stacie
    January 8, 2022 / 11:10 pm

    Happy Birthday Emerson! Happy soon to be Birthday Ali 🙂

    Re: the Guardian article, for more insights (prepare to be absolutely furious), check out “Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men”. Surgery is only one of millions of different areas where women suffer due to male biased processes and design. I’m not sure which particular issue is the worst—in short, there’s so so so much work still to be done..
    Agree with you, The Midnight library was predictable. Try the Invisible life of Addie LaRue?

  4. Karin
    January 8, 2022 / 6:12 pm

    Glad to know you’re OK! I agree with your thoughts on AJLT, it’s getting better as it goes on.

  5. Amanda
    January 8, 2022 / 3:49 pm

    I also love Maintenance Phase! Glad you guys are okay, I was starting to worry. Take care.

  6. Eileen
    January 8, 2022 / 1:38 pm

    8-Bit Christmas is on HBO Max, not Netflix. Looks fun!

  7. Lee
    January 8, 2022 / 10:35 am

    Happy 13th birthday to Emerson! It’s so good to see this post today—I was thinking that it had been a while without any blog posts & hoping y’all were okay. My goodness, what an experience you went through—so glad you’re home safe & sound now. Being without power is not pleasant & can certainly be dangerous in such low temperatures.

    Regarding your comments on taking it easy on yourself—agreed! This continuing Pandemic is awful in many, many ways. Last night, I kind of lost it for a bit—the emotions just finally came out. So, today, I’m going to read articles posted here & enjoy a book I started a few days ago.

    And Just Like That—I’m watching it too. Part of it, for me, is seeing familiar characters and the comfort I find in that (read an article a few months ago that talked about how many of us watch movies & TV shows over & over from years past because it’s a comfort & a coping mechanism during the Pandemic). Many of the issues with the show that you’ve mentioned, I agree with, but I still keep watching & it is getting better. Plus, it’s fiction & over the top, & ridiculous at times—and I’m good with that distraction! Thanks for the other recommendations too. Have a good weekend!

  8. Maggie S
    January 8, 2022 / 9:30 am

    As I was reading about how you were snowed in I thought it would be a good chance to unplug and relax for you….but it seems like it led to more stress. I hope you can re-frame the start of the year as something that was out of your control and give yourself the grace to not be perfect. I think the pandemic has made us all more accepting of the fact the “shit happens”. I’m glad you were not stuck in that horrible traffic mess.

  9. Linda B
    January 8, 2022 / 9:20 am

    Happy New Year, dear Alison! What an adventure you and your family had! I am so glad you actually had that completely quiet time together–I think you’ll look back on that trip with fond memories. I am even more glad that it gave you a real break. . . and that you are being more gentle with yourself. In sharing this, you are undoubtedly helping others to do the same. Sending you a big virtual {{{{hug}}}}.

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