Features + The Weekly Edit

The Weekly Edit: The Joy Division

How are you ladies doing?

This has been such a hard year.  Everyone is struggling.  People are losing loved ones. Plans are on hold.  Everything feels uncertain.

I keep grasping for something to hold on to and all I get is a handful of sand.

Last week, a friend reached out to say that she was feeling impossibly lost.  Her kids have been home for months — no school, no camp, no babysitter.  Her family lives on the other side of the world.  Her husband relocated for a new job.  And so it’s just her, alone, doing it all.

“If global pandemic had been in the mother/wife brochure, I would have taken a different trip,” she said.

The camaraderie of the first few weeks of quarantine has really broken down.  Gone are the Zoom happy hours and the lengthy chats with loved ones far away.  Maintaining human connections just feels like one more thing on the to-do list.

We’re increasingly being defined by our response to this crisis.  Some of us are still isolating.  Some are wearing masks.  Some are taking trips.  Some are sending kids back to school. The solidarity of shared struggle and shared action has given way to division.

We may still all be in this thing, but it no longer feels like we’re in it together.

So maybe today we all make a short to-do list for this week.  But instead of work, we write down three things that will bring us joy — a phone date with a friend, a long walk, a new bottle of wine, a impromptu Zoom dance party, a candlelit dinner — and make a little time for those things.

Because who among us couldn’t use more joy in our lives?

Good hair days are increasingly hard to come by.  This inexpensive ball cap from Amazon is saving my life.  It comes in a host of colors, is washable, fits well, has a good shape, and isn’t covered in logos. I’ve posted it once before, and since I just bought two more, it’s worth posting again.

A few weeks ago, my Instagram explore page was awash in #savethechildren memes.  The campaign may seem innocuous but it’s actually a critical part of a larger QAnon omni-conspiracy theory.  The idea being that if you can lure women, mothers in particular, into the conspiracy you can proliferate it faster.

This article from The Atlantic details how female influencers (most of them mommy-bloggers) are being used to perpetuate this new pro-Trump conspiracy.

If you haven’t heard of QAnon, Esquire and Brut have good explainers of how it works — from the idea that celebrities are drinking the blood and souls of children to look younger to the baffling idea that the leader of the group, Q, is a government operative with Q-level security clearance.  I also liked this piece on how the entire conspiracy resembles an alternate reality video game.

Omni-conspiracies thrive in uncertain times.  Some people take comfort believing that everything from 9/11 to the 2008 financial crisis to the Covid-19 pandemic are not random tragedies but occur under someone’s control.  And when you couple that comfort with the belief that you know and understand something other people, especially the detested  “elites,” are oblivious to, conspiracies become very intoxicating.

I’m washing my hands so frequently that my cuticles are cracking.  Lotion no longer helps.  So I switched to a gentler Mustela cleansing gel.  Designed for baby’s delicate skin, my hands already feel more moisturized.  If you want something a bit cheaper, California Baby also makes a great product.

Need crowd-pleasing music to play while cooking dinner or having a socially distanced backyard corn hole tournament?  For older millennials (and maybe everyone else too), the Pandora station of choice is Hipster Cocktail Radio.  It’s a nice mix of oldies, new music, and Top40 favorites.  It’s the one station that I’ve played that no one complains about (and by no one, I mean Kyle).

The contractors are here demolishing our kitchen right now, so all food this week will be cooked on the grill.  This Grilled Herb Flank Steak is definitely on the menu.  We still have a fridge, so mixing the vegetable salsa up in a bowl should be no trouble.

Also, I’ve mentioned our go-to marinade for steak (and chicken and shrimp) before, but it is definitely worth bringing up again.  It is delicious.

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  1. sbe says:

    This is really neither here or there in regards to the QAnon craziness, but a ‘Q’ clearance actually does exist; it (along with ‘L’ clearance) is only used by the Department of Energy for people that need access to nuclear information. It would be considered the equivalent of a top secret clearance used by other agencies.

    I love the weekly edit feature! Thank you!

    August 19, 2020/Reply
  2. Lisa Piechowski says:

    Really enjoy reading you. FYI Q clearance is a real thing in Doe-for direct access to nuclear weapons. Stay well! Lisa

    August 19, 2020/Reply
  3. LA says:

    Mormon Mom Influcencers and QAnon conspiracies colliding was definitely not on my 2020 bingo card, but here we are. The Atlantic article was a fascinating (and, frankly, terrifying) read. I have been shocked to see how many influencers and IRL friends are following some of these creepy accounts. Clearly the irony is lost on those who couldn’t be bothered to support Black Lives Matter but are so invested in child trafficking.

    I appreciate your to-do list idea. I have had the same feeling of general malaise lately, and reconnecting with friends has really helped my mood.

    August 19, 2020/Reply
  4. BN says:

    You said this so well, it nearly made me cry. Thank you. It sounds cliche, but I feel seen. And I also feel so very alone.
    >>The camaraderie of the first few weeks of quarantine has really broken down. Gone are the Zoom happy hours and the lengthy chats with loved ones far away. Maintaining human connections just feels like one more thing on the to-do list.

    We’re increasingly being defined by our response to this crisis. Some of us are still isolating. Some are wearing masks. Some are taking trips. Some are sending kids back to school. The solidarity of shared struggle and shared action has given way to division.

    We may still all be in this thing, but it no longer feels like we’re in it together.<<

    August 19, 2020/Reply
    • Amanda says:

      Hear hear to that. I’m getting to the place in the pandemic where I’m getting okay responding, “you know, today I’m not that okay” when someone asks how I’m doing. It’s kind of refreshing.

      August 19, 2020/Reply
  5. Megan says:

    Oh my goodness – a few weeks ago, a Mommy-blogger type Instagram account I followed started posted about the QAnon stuff. I thought it was just a coincidence, and I politely messaged her with some debunking (I work in child welfare advocacy, so this really is my area.) She did not react well. I should’ve known it was part of a larger push. Her 10,000ish followers love her, love her family, and find their lives aspirational. It’s really brilliant as a means of propagandizing and programming, if it weren’t so evil.

    August 19, 2020/Reply
    • Anonymous says:

      The “backfire effect” makes debunking very difficult. I learned about it on three episodes of “You’re Not So Smart” (episodes 93-95). There is also a debunking handbook at https://skepticalscience.com/docs/Debunking_Handbook.pdf

      Both scared me because they rang too true.

      August 19, 2020/Reply
    • Kate says:

      I’m a social worker (primarily macro) but I volunteer with our local domestic violence and rape crisis center, which is also our metro hub for human trafficking education and survivor support. It’s frustrating to think “WELCOME TO THE PARTY, FINALLY!” and then… people don’t care about actually taking action about trafficking they just want to post FB conspiracy memes.

      Or, my personal favorite, they want to come at folks with “Well, why aren’t you doing anything about this? Don’t you care about children?” And then probably sell me some LulaRoe.

      *screams internally*

      August 22, 2020/Reply
  6. Denise says:

    100% feeling the camaraderie break down over here. My children’s school is restarting but I have decided to keep them home (I’m a single mom but I have a nanny and I can make it work). My friends think I am legit insane. and since most of their schools are not restarting, I think they’re actually a little miffed with me. They’ve made me swear to not complain since this was ‘my choice’…ok…I think that’s supposed to be funny but it doesn’t feel that way? It all feels so isolating!

    YES to wine and a phone call with a beloved friend. great ideas!

    August 19, 2020/Reply
    • Jess says:

      I’ve been a homeschooling mom for most of my kids’ life even before quarantine. But I am sending one of my kids to public school for the first time this year. Many of my friends think I’m insane, but you know what? it’s what’s best for this particular child, and you are doing what’s best for your family. So don’t let anyone else tell you different.

      August 20, 2020/Reply
      • e says:

        Frankly, I’m sick of the judgment hurled at women for parenting choices. For those who aren’t single moms with joint custody, where’s the shade at dads for making [insert parenting choice here]? Women need to stop doing that to other women, because all it does is continue to emphasize that women are moms, first and foremost, while men get to be fully actualized human beings. Ok, rant over.

        August 20, 2020/Reply
        • Denise says:

          Agree fully. It’s disappointing quite frankly. As if going through a divorce from a *very* angry dude during a pandemic wasn’t enough, the judgment sort of puts it over the edge for me. Luckily I’m learning to distance myself from negativity, but losing friendships is painful, even (and maybe especially) in your 40’s.

          August 20, 2020/Reply
    • MRtiz says:

      I had the same option and made the same choice. There are just hard choices at play here. Not good choices or bad choices. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to reassess at various points (provided the schools don’t subsequently close).

      August 24, 2020/Reply
  7. AmY says:

    I was nodding along through this whole intro. This is SUCH a hard year but it’s hard in different ways for different people. I truly miss the camaraderie of the early weeks. Living alone it feels even more lonely now than it did then.

    Maybe a Thirtyish happy hour live chat is in order for us to all look forward to and share moments of joy or funny memes, commiserate with each other – anything! Initially I thought to suggest Zoom but that feels like waaaay too much pressure for Abra and all of us too. Either way, I’d love to make more real connections and friendships with other readers so we don’t have to be alone anymore so maybe a smaller group for anyone interested in connecting?

    August 19, 2020/Reply
    • e says:

      That is really terrifying. I really don’t understand how people can believe these conspiracies that on their face are SO outlandish, but apparently, here we are. You’re Wrong About had a good debunking of this too recently.

      August 19, 2020/Reply
      • Argie says:

        Was just going to mention You’re Wrong About as well, as I was listening to the particular episode just today.

        August 19, 2020/Reply
  8. Monica T says:

    The unknowns are what make it the hardest. All Summer whether or not the schools were going to reopen was the big question, what choice would I choose? Then we got halfway through the summer and the choice became moot, now school has started and I’m glad we’re distance learning and not going in to the unknowns every day, every week, whether or not in-person learning is continuing or how many COVID cases there etc. I’d be happy if collectively we just said, ‘this is how it is this year, fingers-crossed for next year.’ Seems like it would give us a chance to get used to the idea of it all.

    This is hard, and there is no way around that. As others have said, it’s difficult because it’s hard for different people in different ways, and it’s impossible to say how the hard of living alone ‘ranks’ against the hard of having small children, or school-aged children or taking care of older family members.How do we let ourselves acknowledge our difficulties without discounting someone elses, or see someones choice as a judgement of our own choice or lack of choice? No clue. This is the year of just hanging in there as long as we can, in whatever way we can, that’s for sure.

    August 19, 2020/Reply
  9. Lexi says:

    Wow. That Atlantic article was enlightening, fascinating and creepy. I learned something today.

    August 19, 2020/Reply
  10. Andrea says:

    This post resonates so strongly with me, and just speaks so much to the despair that I’ve been feeling lately.

    When quarantine first started, the virtual happy hours and the ability to dedicate serious time to catching up with far-flung friends & family felt novel, like a treat. Carving out time for connecting with loved ones was one of the (very) few bright spot in all that was going wrong.

    But now, with so few tangible improvements to our situation, with so much remaining uncertainty, with no “end date” in sight…the realization that this might be the *only* way I can connect with these people for the foreseeable future just feels crushing. And as work pressures to ramp things back up to “normal” increase every day, you are so right…even maintaining those virtual ties begins to feel more like a chore.

    All that to say: I’m not sure where the answer lies for any of us, but please know you’re not alone!

    August 19, 2020/Reply
  11. Lily says:

    I’m fully here for the despairscrolling now.
    It’s really hit hard this week, with this ‘first day of school’ in a lot of places — and it’s just awful.

    August 19, 2020/Reply
  12. jo says:

    This was such a great post, and I felt your description of how the nature of the pandemic has changed so hard. I found out that someone in my middle school class died of COVID a few days ago (he was in his 30s), and that was a jolt in the midst of a tough week. This post was perfectly written.

    I also just read that QAnon / influencer article in the Atlantic – excellently written and so disturbing. They had another long article that was very illuminating as well: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/qanon-nothing-can-stop-what-is-coming/610567/

    August 19, 2020/Reply
  13. Kay says:

    I just moved back to China after being in the states for six months trying to telework with small kids. Life is completely normal here with people hanging out, crowded into restaurants, open salons, people hugging, music concerts, etc. My kids are about to start school and I have no concerns. At first I was so relieved that my personal nightmare was over, but now I’m just angry. Because the US could be like this. We should be like this. And yet we’re not.I’m angry for all my friends and family. For everyone I know who’s still living the way I was before I came back here. Because it didn’t have to be this way.

    August 20, 2020/Reply
    • Allison says:

      You are so right Kay. It didn’t have to be this way. It’s infuriating and heartbreaking.

      August 20, 2020/Reply
  14. Lauren says:

    I was just coming here to leave a comment about the handsoap and the comments section is solid. Guess I need to read that Atlantic article.

    Anyways 🙂 the California Baby soap is actually showing up as pricier. I might try the Mustela. And that Pandora station sounds great!

    August 20, 2020/Reply