4 Best Things (for me) on the Internet this Week

Browsing online can quickly become one of Barry Schwartz‘s experiments for the Paradox of Choice–there are so many excellent articles, videos, and sales that you become paralyzed and instead find yourself refreshing the same celebrity gossip site because it goes down so easy. So, so easy.

But, needless to say, this does us a disservice as there are myriad beautiful things to connect to online and the sheer magnitude of it all is no excuse for persistent catatonia. So today, for my weekly blogpost, I’ve decided to try and help you navigate the trenches of online wonder by offering you my top 4 internet experiences from the past week. I hope you enjoy–I certainly did!

  1. You can’t go wrong with mischievous pandas (plus my innovative publisher is synonymous with these yin-yang creatures of adorableness, so win-win)

2. I adore me some TwoBossyDames (sign up for their newsletter here). Dames Margaret and Sophie compile impeccable lists of the delightful, insightful, and feminist-driven work emerging from the online community in their weekly newsletter. One recent discovery: Erstwilder‘s whimsical jewelry line. For the fox (or owl, or dog, or cat)-lover in all of us. 

 

3. Jackie Foo is a writer–check out her captivating short stories and poetry here–but also one of the most positive writer-ly presences in the Twittersphere (and if you know the writer Twitterverse–which is brimming with support–then you know Ms. Foo is truly an exceptional presence of joy and encouragement). Slogging through another workday commute or a few hours (or days) of writer’s block? A simple click on Jackie’s feed will make you feel better. Seriously–just do it. You can thank me later.

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4. As a developmental psychologist, I’ve encountered concerning research about the prolific exposure of young children (often unintentionally) to online pornography and the changes pornography ubiquity is having on the intimacy, or the lack thereof, in relationships (Bonus: If this topic interests you, then make sure to check out Peggy Orenstein’s new book, Girls & Sex, for an in-depth look at how the porn culture is shifting young women’s expectations for and acquiescence in their sexual lives). Aspects of my novel, A Flash of Red (coming Winter 2016), emerged from data examining the effects of pornography addiction on intimate relationships and partner satisfaction.

So, it was with a breath of relief and satisfaction that I read Spencer Kornhaber’s piece on the Sacredness of Sex and how this is displayed in Beyonce’s new album, Lemonade. Perhaps we’re heading back to a place where people will stop talking about ‘having sex’ all the time and instead express what it means to ‘make love’. And maybe, just maybe, intimacy will finally get its power back.

Parkwood

 

 

 

My Life In 4 Songs

 

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Jasper, waiting for his walk. Or a belly rub. Or both.

This Friday, while walking my huge and lovable dog, Jasper, I listened (as I do each week) to Pop Culture Happy Hour, the NPR podcast hosted by Linda Holmes. I adore this podcast and find their topics and recommendations impeccable (for example, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and  Hamilton came to me by way of PCHH. The author Sarah Waters came to me by way of Barrie Hardymon, a frequent PCHH guest.  I know, I know–they are demi-gods of cultural wisdom).  So, when this week they featured a segment devoted to songs that changed their lives, it led me to think about songs that changed my life in similarly intangible yet undeniable ways.

Here’s my list:

  1. Tori Amos: Silent All These Years

Twenty years later after first hearing this song when I was in my early teens, I can still recite every single lyric.  I was a little late to the Tori Amos band-wagon as a mid-nineties teenager and didn’t discover her first album until she’d already put out two other albums, but in the end that didn’t matter.  I loved them all, but this song off of her debut was everything to me. She sings about finding her voice, about the bitterness of sacrificing yourself for another only to be discarded, and the maelstrom of thoughts that comes with growing into an adult.

This song made me feel normal in the craziness of my teenage years. I am so grateful that I could tuck it close to my heart as I tried to figure out who I wanted to be.

2. Smashing Pumpkins: Today

My one claim to coolness is that the first CD I ever bought for myself was Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream. Now, granted this was partnered with a Mariah Carey CD, but we don’t need to talk about that. Part of the reason Today was such a pivotal song in my life is the music video that accompanied it (which, back in the day, was only accessible on MTV). It shows different vignettes of young couples in love, illuminated by the forgiving haze of a sunset.

This song made me think about what it would mean to be loved and the comfort that could bring with it. I’d spent so much time in my life up to that point worried that my body, my face, my entire self was unlovable and undesirable, but this song and the images Smashing Pumpkins chose to represent it gave me confidence that one day I would have access to that same tender affection.

3. Bette Midler: Oh Industry

As a child, our family took many trips in the van out West.  Hours and hours were spent in the car, with my two brothers and my parents’ limited soundtrack of three cassettes.  They included: an Elvis Presley compilation tape, the Amadeus film soundtrack, and the Beaches film soundtrack.  I have no clue what my parents were doing with such random musical pairings, but this trio remains a stark fact of my childhood.  When a tape was finished, one of the other two were popped in, creating a constant fluency of sound. Much like Tori Amos, I can recall the line-up on each of these albums from memory.

Oddly enough, my favorite song out of these was Oh Industry, sung by Bette Midler on the Beaches soundtrack. I don’t think I had a clue as to what she was singing about or how it fit into the film itself, but the opening lines of “I am the captain” haunt me still.  I wanted to be the  captain of my life back then, and to this day that sentiment remains.  As many of us know, Bette Midler can do many things–empowerment being just one of them.

4. Owl City: Fireflies

My husband loves Owl City. He particularly likes to listen to it when folding our family’s never-ending pile of laundry. I chose this song because it represents the contented space I live in now, and that I captain my ship with a fantastic partner and three delightfully goofy first mates (otherwise known as our three children).  It feels good to be in a place in life where happy music does what it’s intended to do–it makes me happy.