Since shortly after the election, my friend Arielle has been sending out a daily TinyLetter in which she offers small, actionable things one can do to make the world a little bit better during dark and uncertain times.
As it turns out, Arielle is a much better person than I am. My near-term approach for dealing with this brave new world that not only has such people in it but also elects such people to the highest office in the land is to do as much as possible to make *myself* feel better. Sure, I joined the ACLU on November 9 just like everyone else, but for the most part my coping strategy is less “I volunteer as tribute!” and more “listening to that Fleetwood Mac tribute album from 2012 while mainlining Fromager d’Affinois.” Either I am, as Shakesville’s Melissa McEwan would say, all out of teaspoons, or I’m simply using what few spoons I have left to expedite the delivery of Nutella directly from the jar into my mouth.
Other than bingeing on Nutella, here are some things I’m doing in attempt to deal:
Subscribing to Vogue. I spent the week of the election at a conference in Boston. Before boarding my flight back to New York on Friday morning, I picked up the November issue of Vogue, mainly because The Economist was still the pre-election issue with fingers crossed for Hillary and I couldn’t deal. (This makes me sound more highbrow than I am. LBR, I read The Economist almost exclusively on airplanes, so even though the newsstand has turned over eight issues since the election, I have only cursory knowledge of what’s happening with terrible Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.)
I expected Vogue to offer escapism. What I didn’t expect was that reading an issue cover to cover would offer almost-unseemly serenity in the form of an essay about a 40-something rich white lady who became close friends with a 20-something rich white lady after they met at the laundromat in NoLiTa. I’d also forgotten that Vogue is pretty good at investigative journalism. An article about a group of Yazidi women who’ve formed a battalion to fight ISIS — they call themselves the Sun Ladies — reminded me that women around the world have shown tremendous resilience under much worse conditions than we can expect to experience here. (Similarly, my Eastern European therapist recently put things in perspective for me with a story about how one day when she was 20 she woke up to learn her country no longer had a currency and that her salary would now be delivered in sacks of flour.)
Washing my face with olive oil. I read an article a while back that said to wash your face with coconut oil. I saved it to Pocket then promptly forgot about it until one day last week when I was procrastinating on some early-morning work. I followed the instructions, admired my slightly shiny visage in the mirror, then spent the rest of the day with my skin feeling irritated until I finally had to dab on some Cetaphil crème.
The next day, I Googled what kinds of skin types are supposed to use coconut oil. Turns out that, counterintuitively, coconut oil is only good for oily skin. People like me, who are Irish enough that people not infrequently pronounce their names in a leprechaun accent, and whose mothers have described them on at least one occasion as having “lousy Irish skin like your father,” are supposed to use, I guess, oilier oils. I didn’t have jojoba oil or avocado oil, so I went with olive oil. I’m now 5 days into washing my face with oil, and so far, so good. My skin is clear and dewy, with little redness, and I don’t even need to apply moisturizer.
KonMari-ing my apartment. Like everyone else, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up two years ago but never actually tidied up. This year, however, my office is closed between Christmas and New Year’s, and my boyfriend is in India, so I have nothing but time (+ five to six 30-gallon bags’ worth of faux-fur shrugs and once-funny graphic tees that no longer spark joy). I’m at my parents’ for Christmas, but once I get back to Brooklyn on Wednesday, I plan to buckle in for two days of KonMari magic.
Inspired by Marie Kondo’s client who wanted to tidy in order to have a more feminine lifestyle, I thought deeply about what I hoped to gain through my own tidying adventure.
Here’s what I came up with: I want it to be easy and delightful to get dressed in the morning. More specifically, I want every outfit I put on to feel like my favorite – a boxy, ridiculously soft, short-sleeved sweater I got for $15 at Zara and a pair of faux-leather Spanx leggings. Getting rid of things to make room for things I truly love will make getting dressed a more pleasant and rewarding experience. Someday, I will become one of those women who own five sustainably-made things from Cuyana and Eileen Fisher and nothing else. Until then, this is the best I can do.
Buying a FitBit. I’m not a fan of wearable tech, mainly because a lot of it is super ugly. Ringly is one obvious exception. Another is the FitBit Charge 2. After discovering the special edition lavender/rose gold version, I was planning to buy it for myself for Christmas, but soon realized it was almost sold out on both Amazon and Target.com. So in early December, I went to Target, got 5% off by using my Red Card, and strapped it onto my wrist where it has remained since, save for the occasional shower or battery charge. The app is great, I’m more cognizant of how much I’m moving (or not moving) and it inspires me to drink more water — and even take the stairs — on a daily basis.
If none of these sounds good to you, no worries. There’s more than one way to spend the next four years plugging your ears and singing “La la la I can’t hear you.” You could cook your way through the Barefoot Contessa’s entire catalog (note: this is not the worst idea I’ve had), finally accept that actually Botox is the new bangs (and not the other way around), buy an alto sax for the express purpose of learning the solo from Foreigner’s “Urgent” (I’m… doing this), or really do anything else that will help you embrace The Power of Now instead of trying to figure out which dystopian novel you read in 2012 will most closely resemble the U.S. in 2017.