What gives?

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This week
The mood here today is generous and cozy. Scroll down for my annual recommendations for thoughtful gift-giving. And on the podcast, we talk about what we're doing inside as we hunker down during this latest pandemic wave.

I'm reading
On COVID stigma. The pandemic has reached even "the middle of nowhere." The twisted tale of hydroxychloroquine. Herman Cain's family has seen all the jokes about his death from COVID, too. Stacey Abrams on flipping Georgia. The hateful face of the future GOP. What the failure of 2020 election polling might mean for other kinds of surveys. What are monuments for? A cop shoots a Black man, and a police union flexes its muscle. Megan Thee Stallion is here to stay. Meet Shameika Stepney, Fiona Apple's childhood schoolmate who is named in her lyrics. Michaela Coel in candid conversation with Jeremy O. Harris. An ode to auntie style. On uunsi, the scent of the Somali diaspora. The biology of fatherhood. Some scientists are worried about the fact that nobody is getting laid.  Isolating while trans. Deaf activists are critical of Biden's new moniker in sign-language and the decision to classify the "ok" sign as hate speech. Two metal-detector enthusiasts found a Viking hoard... and a lot of trouble. Leta Powell Drake, a fixture of Lincoln, Nebraska local television and perhaps the greatest interviewer of all time. The rise of ambient TV shows designed "to provide sympathetic background for staring at your phone." Against "relevance" in art. How to recreate a lost family recipe.


Pie chart
What Gives? 40% Hm? What? Honestly who can tell what's happening in the world anymore, 35% Us, reflexively, when a friend posts a GoFundMe or venmo link, 25% The waistband of our sweats
The Giving Pie

Do you open this newsletter every week? If you always read but don't yet support my work financially, please know that you can become a paying member for just $5/year! What a gift.

I’m looking & listening
Artist Carrie Mae Weems made a COVID PSA. I love that the Home Cooking podcast continues! A great interview with health educator Erica Chidi. The California City podcast, about the bizarre and heartbreaking history of a small town in the Mojave Desert. A gallery of pandemic craft projects.

GIFspiration
sweaty Giuliani's hair dye drips down the corners of his face
The implications of this administration's failure to relinquish power are much bigger than this, but I confess that I had a hearty chuckle at Giuliani's hairline dye-drip moment. The vanity was literally dripping off! A small gift against a backdrop of selfishness.

I endorse
It's my annual gifting guide! The best gifts are really specific to the recipient, so the practice I endorse is keeping a list in your notes app of things that your loved ones have mentioned or might like. But here are a few other approaches to showing some material affection to the people you love:

Making something.
  • I love gifting cloth napkins. We're all eating at home and we all want to be using fewer disposable things. Cloth napkins are an easy DIY—achievable even if you have yet to use that sewing machine you bought in early quar.
  • A set of fabric facemasks. This is another idea for sewing beginners. It's a practical gift, sure, but aren't we all already bored with the masks we have in rotation? As a no-sew option, you could also buy plain cotton masks and shibori dye them.
  • A soup kit. We are all burned out on cooking, so the real gift here is the ability to autopilot dinner by just pouring a jar of dried ingredients into a pot with some water. A perfect late-stage pandemic present.
  • Other edible treats: Pickles! Bitters! Drinking vinegar! Dukkah! Chili crisp!
  • A personal zine. Include old photos, memories, draw a few comics, make a pie chart. Pull some photos from the depths of your camera roll and actually print them out. Yes, this is basically a scrapbook for people who are too cool for scrapbooking.
Buying something directly from an artist. Inscribing a book. Making a donation.
  • Community groups and nonprofits have really struggled this year, exactly when people need them most. Donate in honor of a loved one, and write that person a handwritten note about why you were inspired to make the connection between them and the organization.
  • I especially love making direct donations that are not tax write-offs. Fill your local community fridge, take a photo, and send that with the gift note. Or think about the issues that are close to your recipient's heart, find a stranger's GoFundMe, and donate in their name.
... and some random ideas:

Events
We are closing out the year with two Big Friendship events! If you missed our virtual book tour this summer, here's your chance to eavesdrop on a discussion of the power of friendship with these incredible folks:

Dec 7 - In conversation with Ashley C. Ford, 7pm EST
Dec 16 - In conversation with Rebecca Traister, 8pm EST

The Classifieds

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Big Blue Sun’s botanical sunprints celebrate nature. Plus, we donate 10% of every sale to the environment. Gorgeous gifts for a good cause!

Rediscover the joy of reading! Plain Pleasures is a free monthly newsletter featuring engaging mini book reviews & charming illustrations.

Is it unhealthy to hold a grudge? More like motivational. Read this + more unpopular opinions in culture writer Jess Thoms' free weekly newsletter on modern life. Subscribe here!

Want to make your business / venture more feminist? Design your Feminist Values into your business model. Workshop, Dec. 7. Chart your path as a feminist entrepreneur & strengthen the feminist foundations of your work with our Winter season of Feminist Business Practice workshops

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The rest of this year is sold out. Snag your 2021 ad today:
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