Since I don’t go anywhere anymore, I’ve had less time that lends itself to podcast listening, an activity I previously indulged in on the bus. I’ve been trying to set aside time to consume more audio content recently, partially because I do actually like the podcasts I follow (including by far the best local news podcast in the city), but mostly because it keeps me from scrolling on my phone. I cast that shit to my Google Home and toss my phone into my bedroom and for a few blessèd moments I am Offline. (For the same reason I’ve been watching Dark, a grim German show about people with handsome square heads—having to read headlines means not fucking around on the little screen while the big screen plays in the background.)
One of the podcasts I was catching up on this weekend was Call Your Girlfriend (“a podcast for long distance besties everywhere”). It was an episode featuring an excerpt from the hosts’ new book, which is about cultivating long-lasting, deep friendships. They chatted a bit about the episode which frames the book, which was a (well-documented) trip to some nice spa somewhere.
A big focus was on how, because of both a millennial tendency towards self-documentation and how they’ve monetized their friendship, the external view of the trip was a (literally) sunny one; it was documented on Instagram. But they had at the time grown distant from each other, and the trip sounds like it was sort of miserable, at least as it’s presented in the book. The two women who host the show are very aware of their public vs. private personas, and the episode was one of the few times I’ve heard them really explicitly remind the audience that though the show is conversational it’s artificial, it’s planned, and it’s not a full picture of their lives.
I think about that a lot when people in my life talk to me about the newsletter, or about twitter, or (when I was much younger) about my various blogs. I’ve been writing about myself online for nearly 20 years at this point, which is bananapants, and part of that process—particularly once I learned that my family was reading my LiveJournal when I was 11 or so—has been developing a firmer public vs. private self than I might otherwise have.
People will periodically treat the newsletter as a full recounting of my life, in part I think because I talk about my feelings in a way that a lot of people wouldn’t in a public forum. (For good reason; I don’t know that the newsletter paints me in any particularly flattering light.) But of course that’s not evidence of a lack of public vs. private self, it’s just that the lines are drawn differently than they might be under other circumstances.
A friend was talking the other day about mining personal trauma for online content, and how she tries not to do it anymore because it’s not worth it. I think so many of us who were alive for (and wrote for!) xoJane have such a specific response to the idea of the badly-monetized private self and what happens as a result of that. It was interesting to see the intentional construction of that self called out on the podcast, and I’ve been noodling over it since.
I did ultimately order a copy of the hosts’ book; I’m excited to read it. I just finished They Were Her Property, a very good and very grim book about white female slave ownership. Currently I’m in the middle of Radical Acceptance at the recommendation of a newsletter reader; it is tremendous and I’m grateful.
Shit to read
A friend posted this old pitch meeting for Wishbone piece on Twitter today and it just made me cry laughing.
Fuck the fireworks man.
Please read this story about a feral peacock destroying a neighborhood.
A great piece on the lasting impact of purity culture and shame
I think we all knew in our hearts that this was true
Loved this piece on the artist behind the street eggs that I see; apparently he got his start in Atlanta
McSweeney’s going for the jugular
Shit to eat
Order a bunch of plums from your CSA before remembering that you don’t honestly like plums that much. Eat, like three.
Sure yes put them in the fridge, make your jokes.
Decide that you will turn them into a dessert somehow.
Find a plum cake recipe and get to halving the plums. I had five. The recipe calls for eight. It was fine.
Leave the last hunk of butter you have out and go drink a White Claw while it softens.
While you’re doing that, de-zest an orange.
Put the zest in a little bowl with a teaspoon and a half of vanilla and 1/3 cup of vegetable oil.
Preheat the oven to 350 and slather an 8” round pan in Baker’s Joy.
Mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, a quarter teaspoon of salt, and a quarter teaspoon of pie spice.
Take the soft butter and toss it in the mixer for 3 minutes on medium.
Add 3/4 cup brown sugar and mix for another 3 minutes.
Two eggs, one at a time, beating for a minute after each.
Take the bowl of zest ‘n stuff and toss that in there.
Drop down to low and mix in your dry bowl.
Take a metal spatula and spoon that all into the cake pan. Realize it’s 9”, not 8”, but in for a penny.
Take your plum halves and arrange them prettily in the dough, cut side up. They will look like they’re bleeding when you take them out of the oven.
Shove them down into the dough; put it in the oven for 30 minutes.
When it’s out, keep it and the tin on a cooling rack for 15 before flipping it onto a plate and then back up onto the cooling rack.
Cover with powdered sugar if you have it, though I forgot and it’s fine. Enjoy in slivers throughout the week.
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s dimply plum cake, which is a truly great recipe.)
Shit to watch
This bit from my old improv teacher about Confederate statues made me fucking cry laughing. “Craig’s Bron Bronze Barn” is perfect.