Bloggers Lindsay Williams and Leigh Kramer have inspired me to join in on sharing a “What I’m Into” monthly installment. It’s exactly what it sounds like for those who might like one more place to look for dark noon living.
Free .pdf Reading
I love free reading. I love libraries. I love open source platforms. I love secondhand book stores. There are so many places in real life and online where one can read without cost, and yet we have a consistent problem of illiteracy. I’m pretty sure this is an issue of convenience and not access. Even myself with full access to a car, library account, and Internet access do not want to check out books or download them. I just don’t. However, I do like to read some favorites or new shorter works. One method I often use for short stories and essays is Google searching the title of the work and adding “.pdf” to the search. Usually, this will yield results where I can read a work that might be 5% of a larger book that I don’t want to read. This might raise some copyright eyebrows…but here’s the imperfect truth: Educators are given grace to utilize certain percentages of works. The public has demanded online and hybrid education for public schools. This results in many educational resources be hosted online and available to any who search properly (specifically the .edu sites). This might make you squirm, but I’m into the idea of people accessing the knowledge they want when they want it, and sometimes it would lead to a library trip or sale that is not otherwise happening.
- I was having a ridiculously book nerd conversation with a media specialist recently and found myself enthusiastically recommending a Karen Russell short story, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. This is a great story about identity and moving away from your roots. Chilling ending!
- Sloane Crosley’s I Was Told There’d Be Cake is a book of whimsical, David Sedaris-like personal essays that will make you smile. The very first essay is called “The Pony Problem” and presents a problem many of us share: letting go of collections. It too has a tender ending and will make you want to hear more of Crosley’s voice.
- Finally, if you’ve never read Tim O’Brien, you need to read The Things They Carried. One particular excerpt “How to Tell a True War Story” gives you a taste of the ambiguity of morality and war that is the whole book. O’Brien writes in a memoir-like style but chooses to categorize his work as fiction, leaving the reader to wonder what really happened to him, what is invented, and whether or not that distinction matters at all.
Currently reading Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Binge Watching (Netflix and Hulu)
I love a good Netflix binge, if you can schedule it into your adulting. Here are some recent gems I’ve been enjoying:
- The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 3) – Cute “mole woman” from Indiana who was kidnapped by a reverend is making her way in NYC and finding her place in the world, as are her colorful friends and equal hot messes irrelevant of class or race. This show is a “feel good” series and reminds me every time I see it that 1) Silly laughs are essential, and 2) I can endure anything.
- Anne With An E (Season 1) – Anne of Green Gables went dark in this version of Anne Shirley. Anne is still a precocious orphan with bright-eyed ambitions; however, her trauma and her past are not as hidden (or rather non-existent) and they have been in previous renditions. You seem how her pain has grown into anger and PTSD responses. Also, all of the characters actually look their age. Finally, there are some hints at an alternative lifestyle that Aunt Jo, Diana Berry, and Anne Shirley live…still processing, but I appreciated a new perspective and fresh take on the overall story. I will forever heart Gilbert Blythe. He remains a catch and the kind of guy you’d hope your daughter falls for.
Currently watching Orange is the New Black (Season 5)
While I’ve been watching underdog stories on Netflix, the often underestimated Hulu has really come on up in television for women’s stories. Here are my Hulu picks recently that have given me pause to enjoy.
- The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 1) – Just wow! I had held off on this. The hardcore feminism push and the old style costuming made me feel like I would be watching a new Scarlet Letter type show. Boy, was I completely wrong! If anything, this show is more relevant and current than it ever has been. I can’t share too much without spoiling some key revelations, but I will just say that I found it dramatic, thrilling, and haunting. There is much to be said about the actors’ performances and their restraint in some scenes.
- Harlots (Season 1) – Maybe I’m just craving some raunchy while I wait in agony for the last Game of Thrones season, or maybe this is a delightful series about whores in 18th century London. This series follows two rival brothel owners, their houses, and their respective girls. While it is funny and full of ridiculous personalities, there is a quiet gnawing and messaging about women’s sexuality, power, and products of circumstance. There is cutthroat family tension and moral questioning throughout every scene. While from the teasers and images I would have imagined that this was a frivolous show, I think there is much to be gleaned from what ethics people bend when they feel backed into a corner. Thought-provoking indeed.
- National Treasure (Full Series) – I just watched this one today. It’s not the most exciting thing I’ve seen on TV, but it’s short at a mere four episodes. The series follows a legendary comedian who has been accused of rape and sexual assault. The first three episodes focus on the impact of the family of the accused and ripple effect of media and public perception; the last episode is the classic courtroom scene. What struck me is how non-typical a common storyline was presented. I felt at first as though the protagonist were being portrayed as the good guy and a relate-able character for much of the series, but the finale turned that on its head and surprised me. I think that flip of perception was part of what I was supposed to experience as a viewer and part of the overall message surrounding rape culture. Very low energy watching though.
- Ruffles and Cut-Out Shoulders – Shoulders are finally getting their day in the sunlight! What a modest, yet alluring look that is in season!
- Cards Against Humanity Labs – Do you like Cards Against Humanity (CAH)? It’s definitely the type of game you can’t play with everyone. But if you enjoy the perplexing challenge of choosing the best card in the game, you might enjoy the CAH Lab the next time you’re killing time in a waiting room or line. At the lab, you play simulated rounds with the aim of improving the game by showing developers what people of certain subcultures find hilarious. Be careful. It’s addictive.
- Canva – This is one of my favorite design hacks. Canva is a platform that provides you the tools and the elements needed to create almost anything you need. I mean anything. You can create your own cards, food and drink menus, ebooks, CD covers, blog graphics, infographics, presentations, social media graphics, certificates, resumes, brochures, flyers/posters, email headers, LinkedIn and Soundcloud banners, and something of your own dimensions. There are hundreds of templates, free photos, illustrations, typography elements, and shapes. There are lots of amazing things you can purchase, but I had never had to. Between open source .png files online and all of the free resources, I have never wanted for design elements. I seriously want to make somebody’s Christmas cards or wedding invitations for free, because over the years I’ve enjoyed this platform so much and recently they have only added more and more. Yay! Great resource for teachers, nonprofits, homemakers, hosts, and business startups.