Words Wednesday

Because y’all asked for another weekly feature, right? Every Wednesday, I’m going to share a piece of creative writing—raw and unedited, unless otherwise specified.

This week’s piece is “Carey,” a short story (vignette? sketch?) I wrote a little over a year ago while I was in grad school. It’s just the bones of an idea, but the point of sharing is to keep myself accountable and keep myself writing, even if what I share is full-on trash. Story time!

Carey

The cuckoo clock that Carey had so lovingly restored during a longer stint of sobriety ticked and tocked with distracting purpose. Mae had vivid fantasies of ripping it from the wall and dismantling it in a field, like the scene in Office Space, but she knew that Carey needed the reminder of his potential. Every tick was a second further from the most recent nightmare.

He was sober now, a month, and Mae regretted how easily irritated she became in his constant presence. Not that she preferred his expensive, cocaine-fueled dalliances with other women, but at least then she’d had some alone time to write. The bastard was effusive and charming after a few drinks, but sober Carey tended to be sullen and serious. Fucking became lovemaking, toying around with his guitars became the grave act of composition instead of a diversion. He was, at that moment, in the parlor with his nylon-string acoustic, composing something that sounded identical to Van Halen’s “Spanish Fly,” but Mae didn’t dare tell him. He abhorred what he called “cock rock,” preferring the soulfulness of obscure, esoteric, experimental bands. Mae liked Van Halen—in fact, her guilty pleasure was listening to Top 40 on the radio whenever she wasn’t chauffeuring Carey around, being subjected to his postmodernist jazz, or whatever.

“Do you want me to make dinner?” she asked, hoping the suggestion would persuade him to eat something and put some weight on his increasingly gaunt frame.

“Uh, yeah. Whatever’s fine,” he mumbled back, uninterested. “I’m not super hungry.”

“Just pick a…a food genre,” she replied, frustrated. “An ingredient. Something.”

“How about…stir-fry?” he offered, not looking up to meet her gaze.

“Sure,” Mae sighed, relieved he’d answered at all. “Stir-fry. I’ll get right on that.” She washed the skillet she’d left dirty by the kitchen sink before drying it with a dishcloth one of Carey’s relatives had given them after their wedding.

The warm water streaming from the faucet felt luxurious on her worn hands. She caught her reflection in the kitchen window, and suppressed a small smile. She looked quite beautiful—she always looked most beautiful when she was tired. Exhaustion softened her severe features and smoothed the lines around her eyes. Her nude lipstick looked faint, as though it had been kissed off, and thick black-rimmed glasses magnified her large, storm-grey eyes. Her hair, which typically hung with the weight of a funeral shroud, was swept back by a kerchief to cascade down her back. In these rare moments she felt like a match for Carey.

Carey had the sort of magnetic charm that made him irresistible in the face of his faults. Even as he lied, cheated, absconded with her money, the chipped front tooth of his crooked smile was apology enough. He was a scrawny six feet, and every inch of him was dear to her. She’d been cautioned by friends and family not to marry him, especially so young, but she had a sick fascination with his deviant nature; she was unshakably attracted to the dirty, disheveled, dishwater hair that framed his face, the patches of unkempt stubble that adorned his strong jaw. He spoke softly, in a voice almost sweetly feminine, that had begun to grow gravelly from years of smoking. His bony appendages were covered in tattoos, but her favorite would always be the cluster of mayflowers above his heart, a tribute to her he’d had inked when they were barely more than children. He’d always called her “Mayflower,” and that pet name, unlike their bodies, had not yet begun to grow old.

Carey was 33 now, but looked younger. He had the unaffected manner of someone who’d never committed to anything long enough to gain expertise. Well, anything but her. The only trustworthy thing he’d ever said was that he loved her, and she believed him without a single lingering doubt. The dysfunction between them was intoxicating—a therapist might have urged that they separate, but their bond was a foregone conclusion. They both got high on the misery they inflicted upon each other. He wrote songs about it. She wrote stories. He went off the wagon, cleaned up his act, and did something excessively grand, like build her an armoire. She’d resolve to kick him out, or kill him, but one look into his smoldering dark eyes, and she’d fall into his arms, then he, to his knees.

They’d been living off a modest trust that Carey’s deceased parents had left him, though its funds were dwindling after years of relative indolence. Mae, for her part, had gone to school and always kept a job; Carey had barely scraped through with an undergraduate degree in Psychology, which he’d promptly abandoned as readily as he resolved to skip graduation. Carey was smart—smart enough to get by on looks, charm, and the nine lives he’d apparently been granted by good works in a past life. He had Mae, sometimes a servant, sometimes a concubine, always his wife—conservative in her daily activities, Mae came completely unhinged in the bedroom, performing whatever fit his whim. Even sober sex with him was incredible, despite the lack of levity. In the old days, when they’d get whiskey drunk and fuck, they could be heard laughing down the hall as they tumbled across the bed and onto the floor. It was no surprise that Carey had gotten her pregnant twice—they were as responsible as they were gainfully employed.

When the ingredients for dinner were chopped and rinsed, Mae wiped the counter down with the dishcloth, staining it with the juice of the red bell pepper. She considered, over the cast-iron pan of stir-fry, if she should turn off the flame and seduce him now. He was in an insufferable mood—perhaps that might cheer him up. But it could backfire—it could make him so dreadfully intense. He might speechify his professions of love for hours, and Mae had an early morning. He had always been grandiose, but his increasing familiarity with each and every of the twelve steps lent his words a messianic tenor. She pictured herself, 21-year-old bride in a cheap lace sundress, standing on the American side of Niagara Falls, the most romantic spot their young minds could conjure, and briefly imagined what she might have made of her life if she’d run screaming the first time he relapsed.

The first year of their marriage had been relatively placid—bolstered by their defiance, they had endeavored to enact an idyllic scene of young love and had succeeded. Even her parents eventually began to soften to Carey, though they’d never abandon their dislike of him entirely. They’d never understood how she could tolerate his capriciousness; they, of course, suspected his addictions. Mae was not naive, but Carey was her pet, and when she was young, she thought that proper love and nurturing could relieve his suffering and make him whole. It wasn’t long into their marriage before he relapsed after two years of relative sobriety—devastating then, she remembered it as almost quaint in comparison to what would come later. He admitted to having slept with a college classmate in a blackout and Mae had tried to be upset by it. Not long after their first reconciliation, they found the third-floor apartment where they still lived. The landlord, Rex, was a former junkie who had a soft spot for Carey’s troubles; he never bothered them when the rent was late, as long as they paid eventually. They’d been in the creaky old apartment for ten years that April.

She turned the knob on the gas range off and tossed the dishcloth from her hands as she devised a game for them to play. She walked into the parlor, lifted his chin with her right index finger, and used their wedded telepathy to impel him to the bedroom. He placed his guitar gently onto the sofa and followed her eagerly. Once they’d reached the bed, he flung her down with uncommon force and began biting into her flesh like a starved animal. She loved this Carey, possessed by his animal instincts. This was her favorite iteration of him, and her earlier feelings of irritation vanished as bruises appeared on her skin. Their years together had made their lovemaking efficient—Carey took Mae from behind and angled her just so, allowing her to finish before him, as he always did.

She nestled herself in Carey’s arms, inhaling his earthy scent, tracing her fingers along the patterns left by the beads of sweat on his chest. She began to ask what he was thinking, but stopped herself; it was better she didn’t know. In ignorance, she could imagine that he lay there daydreaming of her—the deep curve of her waist, the high arch in her foot, the taste of her. His soft gaze was aimed at the ceiling, which was yellowed here and there from decades of water damage. His breathing was deep and even. She ran her thumb over his bottom lip, slightly protruding, swollen from its time between her teeth. He turned to face her, smiled, and whispered “Mayflower” as he grazed her brow with a kiss. Carey’s wedding band caught the light of the street lamps outside and glowed yellow as his hand rested on her cheek.The weight of it soothed her—his calloused fingertips felt so soft on her face; they’d been so rough only moments before. Mae kissed the palm of his hand; a barely perceptible smile flickered across his lips as his eyes closed to rest. It didn’t take long for him to fall asleep, and she soon followed. The flames didn’t wake either of them until they began lapping at the bedroom door.

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Shout Out Sunday

If putting this three days late is wrong, I don’t want to be right! Accountability is hard, guys. Deadlines are hard. The important thing is that I’m back to shove articles and other media in your face—I’m reliable that way, if late.

I’ve already made you wait, so without further ado and nonsense from me, this week’s list!

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co—star really is…that bitch

 

  1. Did you guys hear about Barnes & Noble being sold? That store was such a huge part of my childhood that I actually ending up working there for years. I’d like to see them survive, and I think the strategy of tailoring them to the needs of their communities is a good one (the plan-o-gram model of universality always bugged me). I wish nothing but the best for them, but also capitalism is evil, etc, etc.
  2. The title alone has me hooked. Can’t wait to read Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows.
  3. I’m reading Homegoing, finally, and it’s incredible. 10/10 would recommend.
  4. Did you see this NY Post story? People are roasting it online…how out of touch can you get? I laughed out loud when I saw the reply, “my dad has bricked seven laptops” @shaun_jen. It goes without saying that a. Women have skills and we don’t seek mates who can build our Ikea furniture and b. Millennials can’t afford to buy houses because of the economy y’all ruined, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
  5. I had a shitty week (got passed over for a job, had an existential crisis about my professional life), but Wine Country was there for me when I needed it.
  6. On that note, Paula Pell (the GOAT) wrote a piece for Glamour that nearly moved me to tears.
  7. Start using the Co—Star astrology app if you want to get dragged to filth every day via push notifications (see above).
  8. Friday was National Donut Day and I didn’t even get to have one! I need to find some donut shops that don’t involve me driving into South Boston for Blackbird. Did you know they do weddings now? Guess I have to divorce my husband and remarry him to make this happen.
  9. An excellent take on the Hollywood boycotts of Georgia.
  10. The National’s new album is out and how am I just listening to it now???
  11. This article…affected me.
  12. Your bitch got published. A paper I wrote is going to be featured in Bridgewater’s Graduate Review. I’ll be sure to link it when it’s up!

Until next week! Or, rather, the end of this one.

xoch

Shout Out Sunday

‘Sup?! A lot of bullet points today, so we’ll get straight to it!

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i can’t believe we didn’t go to this place when i was in oxford. eternal regrets.
  1. ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE IS OUT AND IT’S PERFECT.
  2. I’m going to see Rob Delaney in August and I might actually die. He is one of my favorite living human beings. You’ve got to read his book, it’s incredible.
  3. Gimme this soup!
  4. I made this hair tonic (with almond oil, since it’s all I had), and it smells so fantastic! I don’t know if it’s actually working to make my hair grow faster but it’s not not helping.
  5. Currently lusting over these sneakers.
  6. This mask is coming in my Fab Fit Fun box and I’m so excited to try it! I’m trying to get more into masks. Self-care, baby.
  7. Everyone is obsessed with the show Fleabag but I just cancelled Amazon Prime! Legit cursed. I may have to reactivate…
  8. I’m pumped to watch the show Special! I listened to an interview with the creator (Throwing Shade!) and it seems like such a groundbreaking piece of television!
  9. Did you see Kate McKinnon on Billy on the Street?
  10. Should I try Bubly? Apparently La Croix is over.
  11. If you think for a second I haven’t started reading the books bc of withdrawals, you’re crazy.
  12. It’s bound to melt your heart.
  13. I swear to god if season 5 of Schitt’s Creek doesn’t drop on Netflix soon I will move heaven and earth!
  14. I am a sucker for marketing and I really want to try these socks out!
  15. My husband, Michael, wants to watch Mad Men next and I’m so excited. I haven’t seen an episode since the finale aired (RIP to my soul for enduring that bullshit).
  16. This article by the incomparable Grace Lavery is incredibly moving.

See you next week, mes animaux!

So Fresh and So Clean Clean

If you know me personally, you know that I am a bit of a freak for organization.

One of my long-term life goals is to start a professional organizing service, but unfortunately, with the popularity of Marie Kondo and The Home Edit, the market is a bit saturated (also, I have literally no idea how to start a business). A clean home/workspace brings me an immense sense of calm, and has been an invaluable tool in maintaining my mental health. Cleaning and maintaining a household is hard work when you’re severely depressed, but it’s just those little actions that can help to lift you out of a funk*.

I decided to compile some of the things that have helped me conquer the chaos, because so many articles online rely on the reader to buy expensive products or have limitless free time, and, babe, we’re not all IG influencers. I’m out of my house for work 50 or more hours a week. If you search “entryway organization” on Pinterest, you get images of million-dollar homes (I don’t know how much houses cost, to be fair). I don’t have the time or resources to have a Pinterest-perfect home, but that doesn’t mean I can’t love and cherish my space.

Here are some of my favorite tips, tricks, and products for keeping a chaos-free home!

  • Actually KonMari your house. I know it’s controversial because most people have hoarding tendencies (way to generalize, Chels), but it’s the first step in the process and you can’t skip it. If you’re drowning in things, you’ll never get a real handle on your home. This is a blanket solution to your too-much-shit issues, since it applies to every room and every category in the house.
  • Sell stuff! Selling your used clothes and bags on Poshmark or at consignment stores can make getting rid of things into a game. I know people who’ve had luck with housewares on LetGo. You might as well get cash money as a prize for organizing.
  • This article on how to deep-clean your fridge is totally invaluable. It’s got to be done! I guarantee your mayonnaise has expired.
  • The dollar section at the entrance to Target! This section varies seasonally—it could even have different products in it week to week—but it almost always has storage solutions like bins, boxes, and jars, usually in adorable colors. P.S. Speaking of storage solutions, The Home Edit just dropped a collection at The Container Store and it is #goals.
  • Do the dishes while you cook. Nothing is more discouraging than finishing dinner only to face a massive pile of gross dishes. The best hack for this is to…
  • Use dishwashing gloves! Using gloves in the kitchen has changed the game for me. You don’t have to touch any food remains or wash your hands fifty times as you clean. Even though I use natural cleaning products, I still worry about residue on my hands from cleaning sprays, so this has spared my hands a lot of grief!
  • Reusable bags for every damn thing. I bring a reusable bag or two with me every time I go into a store. These fit everything, and they fold down into practically nothing. People have an inherent tendency to hoard tote bags (guilty), but if you narrow it down to a few you really love and actually use them, you spare yourself ever having to contend with those gross plastic bags ever again.
  • *very Oprah voice* EVERYTHING GETS A BIN. These are my personal favorite at the moment—I took everything in my office and separated it into categories (stationery, notebooks, sentimental items, etc), and it has made things so easy to find!
  • Containers, dispensers! Decant all your stuff into reusable containers and then just buy refill packs or concentrates. If you have, for instance, your dish soap in a glass bottle, then you can tell at a glance exactly how much you have, and won’t be tempted to buy extra “just in case.” Look under your sink and tell me how many extra bottles of countertop spray you have.
  • Take inventory before every trip to the grocery store. Seems like a pain in the ass, but how many bags of lentils do you need? Utilizing bins, containers, and turntables in your cabinets and fridge will make this a total breeze. Also, this spice rack is a game-changer if you’re like me and have every spice known to man.
  • Laundry gets taken out of the dryer, folded, and put away on the same day. This may sound like a no-brainer, but if you set a pile of underwear on top of the dresser because you’ll fold it and put it away “later,” it’ll still be there in a week, minus the ones you’ve plucked from it to wear (am I the only person that does this?). Laundry is my least favorite chore because it is never and can never be finished, but the quicker it’s out of sight, the quicker it’s out of mind. If you hate laundry too, the KonMari is crucial—when you have fewer articles of clothing, everything has a clear and designated place, so putting away your clothes is a breeze. Maybe one of these days I’ll actually do a capsule wardrobe…
  • Set reminders on your phone to water your plants. This is a new thing I’m trying. Pick a day a week, or month, depending on your plant’s specific watering needs. I have let so many plants perish from negligence, including a spider plant my husband managed to keep alive for the better part of a decade. Dead plants kill the visual vibe of any space, but living plants are good for the air quality in your home and make you seem like a classy adult who has her shit together!
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this is why you’ve got to water your plants. look how droopy and lopsided he is! i’m hoping i can bring him back to life.

I’m sure I could come up with a million more tiny things I do each day to keep my living space under control, but the above are tried-and-true methods that have taken me from being an absolute slob (just ask my parents) to a person who’s fiercely proud of her home. If you live with a partner (or kids), it can be hard to adjust to new routines, but I promise that in due time, they’ll see the myriad benefits of a clean space and get into it too!

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too many drawer dividers is just not a thing.

I apologize for the quality of the photos—I just used my phone and didn’t clean up beforehand—I wanted to show pictures of my actual day-to-day house, post-organizational implementation. It’s never perfect, but it’s always colorful.

*In no way am I endorsing the idea that you can “cure” depression by cleaning your house. That’s nuts. But since small tasks can be so overwhelming to those of us who deal with these issues, accomplishing them can be genuinely uplifting.

Shout Out Sunday

Good morning, long weekenders! I needed this mini-vacation like you read about. I have no plans, which, it seems, is the best possible way to spend a weekend as an adult. I would like to try to get to the beach at some point, but considering the holiday, I might have to settle for the nearby pond. I hope you make the most out your days off!

Enjoy this week’s round-up!

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the namesake makes an appearance!
  1. It’s Memorial Day weekend, so watch this deeply moving episode of You’re the Worst. It gutted me.
  2. We’re all sad to see GoT go, but Barry has been renewed for another season! Bill Hader would never disappoint us. This article nails why the show is so effing good.
  3. I did it—I became a mystical bitch. Crystals, Tarot, you name it—sign me up. I had my first ever psychic reading on Sunday (I was in tears the entire time). I bought this fancy deck set and some stones for meditation at Open Doors in Braintree, and yeah, I’m signed up for the crystal meditation class on June 3rd, so see you there?
  4. I finally fixed my Instax Mini 8 (i.e. put new batteries in it) and I’m going to try to take more physical photos. I miss having actual pictures around! I’m pretty sure my cat, however, doesn’t appreciate me following her around like a paparazzo.
  5. I snagged Rainn Wilson’s book on clearance at Barnes & Noble and I’m pumped to read it. Dwight Schrute is my dream man.
  6. While I was at BN, I also picked up Tyrant by Stephen Greenblatt, which had been recommended to me by a professor, and of course, this absurd trinket.
  7. J.Crew sale is 50% off this weekend!
  8. You can’t escape frizz.
  9. I don’t know who needs this Twitter account, but you’re welcome.
  10. It’s a week old now, but have you seen Leslie Jones talking about the Alabama abortion ban on Weekend Update? 5 words: Leslie. Dracarys. That Bitch. Jones.

Have a lovely day off tomorrow, if you’re lucky enough to have one. And even if I’m not the world’s most forgiving person when it comes to this weekend’s theme (those planes tho), a Facebook friend shared this petition and it seems like a great cause.

See you next week!

 

Are you watching Barry yet?

Whenever I bring up the show Barry, I am shocked that no one I know is watching it! Since the entire world watched this season of Game of Thrones, I know you all have access to HBO. So what’s the problem? Do you not like thrilling, dark, hilarious antihero stories? It’s Memorial Day weekend—you have the time to binge-watch a show about a fictional veteran.

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photo source

Barry, created by Bill Hader and Alec Berg (of Seinfeld fame) is the tale of a Marine-turned-hitman-turned-actor trying to escape his life of misdeeds by pursuing a career in the arts. It’s glib to refer to gunning down innocents as “misdeeds,” but the slippery relationship between good and evil is exactly what makes the show great. Barry Berkman (stage name: Barry Block) is the best kind of antihero, because no matter how sinister his actions, we still want him to come out on top. It’s rare that a show can make an audience root for a man to kill a cop, for instance—later, even as we watch Barry in a flashback, overcome with rage, murdering a noncombatant in Afghanistan, somehow we fill with pity instead of disgust. The show has a lot to say about the power of emotion—and its absence.

In summary, Cleveland native Barry Berkman (Bill Hader) becomes a hitman in the employ of Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root—from Office Space!) upon leaving the military. Doing reconnaissance for an ultimately botched hit in LA, Barry stumbles into an acting class, is profoundly moved, and decides to quit the killing business to pursue acting. Disentangling himself from his life beyond the law proves trickier than anticipated—chaos ensues. Season two gets even darker. The show’s writers deftly fold so much into this morality tale—a critique of the narcissism and sexism of show business, a reverence for the power of storytelling, abuse, mental illness, and a scathing indictment of the way the military leaves its veterans.

Barry’s past as a Marine is a vital part of the show, because it makes clear, without ever explicitly stating it, how insidious and vile an organization we socially recognize as “good” and “honorable” can truly be. It’s hardly a secret that bloated military spending is a huge national problem, and that service can often mean the disruption or destruction of the lives of those enlisted, but what the show explores instead is America’s fetish for killing, its bloodlust. In a flashback to his deployment (“The Show Must Go On, Probably?”), the audience gets to watch Barry’s first kill, to see him discover his dark talent and be rewarded for his ability to turn off his emotions and take lives. In a moment that would shatter most people, well-adjusted or otherwise, Barry finds purpose and community. His soldier friends celebrate him when he “[takes] out a sheepfucker from 700 yards.” They rally around him and chant his name, seconds after he shoots three people for their dubious “suspicious activity.” When Barry leaves the Marines after, as acting teacher Gene Cousineau puts it, “Basically, you killed somebody and you got away with it” (“What?!), he claims that he “didn’t think [he] deserved a good life.” Fuches, a family friend, is there to manipulate the shell of a man left by deeply traumatic wartime experiences. The Barry that returns from Afghanistan is emotionless, blank—a trained and effective killer brainwashed to believe that his murderous capability is his only redeeming quality.

Barry’s ability to shut off his emotions entirely and kill make him a great soldier and hitman but later stunt his ability as an actor. It’s no coincidence that the writers chose acting as Barry’s would-be career—a life of robotically acting on orders (in the military and then as Fuches’ employee) has left Barry stagnant, depressed, and hollow. It’s only through inaction, or the purely dramatic rendering of actions, that Barry can tap into his emotions and start to grapple with the evils he has committed. Dramatic acting forces Barry to thoughtfully consider situations and juggle their emotional weight—he can no longer blindly act at the behest of a commander or boss. But the delicately nuanced show doesn’t absolve Barry of his many wrongs—it dances with just how innate Barry’s killing ability is. Barry doesn’t just carelessly point a finger at the military—it points a finger at America itself and the ways in which we encourage and facilitate senseless violence. As audience members, invested in our protagonist, we are complicit in condoning scores of murders, typically at least one per episode. We have become anesthetized to it.

In the second episode of the second season, “The Power of No,” Barry asks Chechen mobster Noho Hank (Anthony Carrigan), “Am I evil?” In perhaps the series’ finest moment of comedic delivery, Hank replies, “Oh my god…I mean, absolutely! Do I not tell you that enough? You are like, the most evil guy I know, man!” Barry replies, “You know, I take no pleasure in killing people. You know that, right?” But as Barry attempts to convince Hank, he doesn’t succeed in convincing himself. The show doesn’t provide an answer to the question of whether killers are born or made, but it does leave viewers with the creeping sensation that, under the right circumstances, they too could be Barry.

Both seasons of Barry are currently available to stream on HBO GO.

Shout Out Sunday

Happy Sunday, friends! I wish I could say “Happy long weekend,” but alas, that’s next weekend. Here’s the stuff that “freaked my week,” and yes, I regret saying that.

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this picture was taken february 7th in st. pete florida. literally why do i live in the northeast?
  1. I finally started watching You’re the Worst and it’s a perfect show. Je suis obsessed. Chris Geere is my boyfriend. The Ferris Bueller discussion at the beginning of episode two is the very definition of *chef’s kiss*.
  2. Gimme dis vegan ice cream.
  3. I bought the damn Rothy’s and they’re incredible. Worth every penny.
  4. Last week’s Game of Thrones was TRASH—sound off in the comments if you’re as upset as I am, and as terrified for tonight’s finale. This thread is everything.
  5. Check out this trippy video for “Oh What a World“! And yes, I am a Kacey stan, sorry ’bout it.
  6. I don’t know if you saw the original piano Cardi B video, but he’s back with another one and it’s perfect.
  7. Wait for the cameo at the end of this video. My god.
  8. I know it’s basic to plug yourself, but I wrote this piece about Céline Dion 2 years ago and watching everyone on Twitter stan her so hard lately has made me feel like an honest-to-goodness trendsetter.
  9. I just placed a hold on Reese Witherspoon’s book at my local library via the Libby app. I listened to her interview on Sooo Many White Guys the other day and she truly is a boss.
  10. I don’t have a dining table (or a dining room for that matter), but these chairs are the most perfect things I have ever seen and I must have them.
  11. Is Chipotle cancelled?

 

See you next week! Or, y’know, sooner if I decide to actually write a blog post one of these days.

*My very smol dragon tattoo in the above pic (Smaug!) is courtesy of Oxford Tattoo.