May favourites

May was something of a crazy month for me. I went on holiday to Venice for week, and then yesterday I moved to a new city to start a new job – after a manic few weeks finishing up any outstanding freelance projects before that phase of my life (thankfully) reached a close. For now.

I am a totally shy introvert, so moving to a new city full of strangers into a house full of strangers (I am living in a slightly weird place that used to be a B&B, with six other people) feels like a Big Deal. I’ve moved here for a temporary, but very exciting job, so I’m doing my best to put my anxieties aside (by which I obviously mean read lots of books and watch lots of TV and try not to think about them) and enjoy myself.

So far I’m not doing too badly. I took myself out for a coffee date this morning. Yesterday I made my room pretty.

It’s in progress.

Anyway, onto my favourites from May!

Travelling by myself

In the weeks leading up to Venice, whenever I mentioned I was going away, and then, when asked, revealed that it was by myself, I got some funny looks. I felt like I had to make excuses for myself. Reassure people that I did have friends. Mention that you have to do some things by yourself when you’re single as if that was something I felt regretful about.

The truth?

I fucking love going on holiday by myself.

Wandering aimlessly for hours, not worrying that I’m boring someone else, whether their needs are being met… it’s the best. I’ve been away alone three times now and every time I wait for myself to get lonely and I just… don’t.

There might be something wrong with me.

All I can say is it felt like freedom.

F Word

This is a series on the Soul Pancake YouTube channel about a queer couple looking to foster and perhaps adopt a child. It offers a fascinating insight into the foster and adopt process in the US, casting an analytical eye over systemic racism in the system – people of colour are much more likely to have their children removed in situations where white parents are allowed to keep theirs – the limbo potential foster and adoptive parents experience as they negotiate the system and the tensions between biological parents and foster parents. It is emotional AF (I cried. A lot.) and painful and hopeful and heart-breaking – and an invaluable look at a much under-represented experience. The episode where they interview bio parents fighting to get their rights to their children reinstated is particularly devastating and necessary.

See Something Say Something

The See Something Say Something podcast is back! One of the most tragic losses of the great Buzzfeed podcast cull of 2018, I was thrilled to see Ahmed Ali Akbar and guests back on the air as an independent outfit. See Something Say Something is a podcast about being a Muslim in the US right now. From their award-winning Ramadan series to interviews with some amazing guests like everybody’s fave chef, Samin Nosrat and author Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib AKA Carly Rae Jepsen’s no. 1 fan among many other great people, every episode is a blend of political commentary, pop culture (RIP Zayn and Gigi) and just a chance to spend time with some awesome people.

Aja Barber

Aja Barber is an activist-writer-stylist talking about systematic racism, sustainable fashion and saving the planet. Through her Instagram and Patreon accounts she dissects the role of white supremacy in the climate emergency, and how we can all hold each other accountable – most especially white people – for the role we are playing in the destruction of the planet. I feel really strongly about the destructive power of fast fashion, but for a long time I couldn’t find many voices within the sustainable fashion movement that really resonated with me. It’s a lot of very rich, mostly white women dancing in fields wearing flowing dresses and talking about veganism. And while that’s fine for them, the story a lot of those accounts tell lacked the urgency and complexity with which I wanted to see the conversation take place – also, to be frank, they showed a lifestyle totally financially unattainable to me. Then I found Barber’s work. She discusses the problem of fast fashion with the intelligence, nuance and analytical complexity I’d been looking for. She constantly challenges the white woman in her audience to be better, more accountable, more intersectional in their perspective and has pushed me to consider what doing my best really looks like. And, with her particular interest in second hand shopping, she shows that living sustainably is more accessible than we might think.

If you fancy catching up, this month I reviewed…

How to be a Craftivist by Sarah Corbett
The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X. R. Pan
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

How was your May? Have you ever moved to a new place for a job? Any tips would be much appreciated!

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May favourites

Hey June! Nice to see ya.

I am very excited by the prospect of summer. Every year I have this whole list in my head of things I want to do that I inevitably fail to achieve. I feel good about summer 2018 though. I’ve made a solid start. Tomorrow I’m going for a walk with some llamas (for an article I’m writing for work, but I’m very much looking forward to it anyway) and I’m also looking into renting a kayak.

It’s weird, but as an adult I have become somewhat outdoorsy.

In terms of media I consumed in May, I wasn’t overly thrilled by anything. I finished Scandal just because I felt I needed to but wasn’t impressed, as I haven’t been for many seasons now. I keep watching iZombie even though it’s just so bad. What is with that ‘french’ guy? And more importantly, why? I was so excited when Agents of Shield finally started back up again in the UK, but some Instagram spoilers of the season finale have made me lose enthusiasm because I know all I’m heading toward is pain.

But that said, there were a few gems in the slush pile.

TV: Barry

Barry

I love everything about this show. I have long-held affection for the comedy hitman (really ever since I first saw Gross Pointe Blank when I was like 12) and Barry is a truly impressive take on this well-trodden ground with one of the strongest casts I have seen in a while. Everyone is so. Fucking. Good.

Podcasts: Sandra

sandra

I devoured this fictional series in only a couple of days. Voiced primarily by Alia Shawkat, who continues to be one of my favourite actors at the moment (with the exception of new Arrested Development, which I don’t wish to discuss) it establishes a world in which every household has a Sandra, an Amazon Alexa-like device that is powered by real people rather than the internet. Desperate to change her life, Helen (Shawkat) gets way too involved with a Sandra user, with menacing consequences. It’s the exact mix of weird, funny and sad that I enjoy so much.

Other things: Neal Brennan: 3 Mics

neal brennan

I have mixed feelings about having this in my favourites, but it’s probably the most impactful thing I’ve watched this month so here we are. What is so remarkable about this stand up special is the format. Brennan uses, as the name implies, 3 mics: one for one liners, one for stand up and one for ‘emotion’. He would cycle between jokes (some of which I liked, some of which I was less crazy about. As soon as a guy starts on ‘women do [insert stereotype here]’ my eyes immediately roll, but a lot of his jokes were funny) then the lights would go down and he would move to the ‘emotion’ mic. He told stories about failed relationships, his depression and his family sparing no painful detail – he’d get a couple laughs while doing it, but it wasn’t about that. I don’t know about anyone else, but to me at least, there is something deeply comforting about people who have the ability to hold their pain in their hands and offer it out to everybody so we all feel a little bit less alone. And to do that and then seamlessly step into making jokes about doing the reverse cowgirl? That’s impressive.

Instagram: @bookishbronte

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“But Hagrid, there must be a mistake. This says Platform 9 3/4, there’s no such thing. Is there?” . Which book captured your imagination the most? I’ve always completely lost myself in the world of Harry Potter. I grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione. I sorted myself into Hufflepuff and found my Patronus and read the books so many times that the Hogwarts became real, it’s amazing what the imagination can do, isn’t it? #WHPimagination . . #harrypotter #hogwarts #hufflepuff #bookart #bookworm #booknerd #hurrayforplay #bookish #bookgram #alittlebeautyeveryday #nostalgicmoments #justalittlewhimsey #thisjoyfulmoment #ofsimpledays #ourplayfulstyle #visualcollective #livecreatively #myhappycapture #inspiremyinstagram #booksofinstagram #nostalgicmemories #creativityfound #bookartwork #shared_joy #thingsilove #harrypottertrain #harrypotterinspired #ourplayfulstyle #thevisualcollective#bookish_nio

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I’ve recently discovered the wealth of beautifully artistic Instagram accounts that exist. This is one of my current favourites.

How was your June? Any favourites you think I should check out?