Filtered by Category: Living

On deep-shallow companions

Image: Eckhard Hoehmann / Unsplash

Image: Eckhard Hoehmann / Unsplash

As I’ve been working on The Art of Showing Up, I’ve done quite a bit of research on the “ideal” number of friends a person should have, and, in the process, have come up with my own theory on this topic: Regardless of how many friends researchers say you need, or how many friends you currently have, I think everyone needs one (1) individual to fill the role of deep-shallow companion.

Your deep-shallow person is the one who happily listens to the most humdrum shit about your day, pretty much every day (and then shares theirs in turn). They let you go on and on about the traffic you sat in, the errands you ran, the minutiae of your to-do list, and everything Sweetgreen did right or wrong with regard to your salad order. (My experiences with the Sweetgreen app — which used to be very bad and are now, somehow, better? — are the epitome of deep-shallow talk.) Deep-shallow stories are both too boring and too complicated for most audiences. There’s no real drama, but there’s also definitely a five-act Shakespearean play, and it somehow all took place in the self-checkout line at Target.

Deep-shallow companionship is the height of intimacy, demonstrated through extremely not-intimate topics. It’s a bond and love that is rooted so deep, it can withstand this particular type of shallow conversation. 

Of course, most relationships include some deep-shallow talk, and occasionally, the first coworker pal you see when you walk into the office is gonna hear your terrible commute story whether they like it or not. It’s fine! But your deep-shallow person is the one who willingly listens to this stuff daily, and also shares their own with you. It’s often a role filled by a parent, sibling, or romantic partner because it requires so much love.

My suspicion is that a lot of loneliness stems from not having a deep-shallow companion. Which really sucks! Because if you try — consciously or not — to make someone your deep-shallow person and they don’t want to be (because they already have a deep–shallow companion, because it’s too early in the relationship, whatever), you probably won’t get the attention or enthusiasm you’re looking for, which just feels bad. It doesn’t mean the person doesn’t want to be friends with you or that they don’t like you (truly!)...but it still stings. Deep-shallow conversations are often when we’re our most relaxed and uncensored and real selves; not having a deep-shallow person can lead to feeling very unseen and incredibly alone.

I share this theory not to call attention to something you feel sad about and can’t really fix, but because I know how how it feels to not have the words to explain this particular kind of intimacy, or describe what it looks and feels like. I think it’s really helpful to be able to name this kind of companionship, and to be able to articulate exactly what you’ve lost if your deep-shallow person is no longer in your life. ✨

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‘‘The Orange’’

Image: Kotagauni Srinivas / Unsplash

Image: Kotagauni Srinivas / Unsplash

Today is my 34th birthday! I’m eagerly awaiting a box of fresh peaches from McLeod Farms (truly the Platonic ideal of a peach, and maybe all fruit), which are due to arrive any minute, and which have me thinking about “The Orange,” a beautiful poem by Wendy Cope that I just love. Here it is:

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange—
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It's new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I'm glad I exist. ✨

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A cute little idea for your next birthday

Image: Kiyana Salkeld / Just Good Shit

Image: Kiyana Salkeld / Just Good Shit

This morning I was thinking about the fact that it’s now August, aka the month of my birth, and I remembered a cute idea my friend Julia gave me a couple of years ago.

She said she uses any birthday coupons she receives (like the Madewell birthday discount, etc.) to order goodies for herself online, but she doesn’t open the packages as she receives them — instead, she waits until her birthday proper. Then on her bday, she opens these packages along with any gifts she receives in the mail from her friends/family all at once. (I learned all of this when I visited her one February, and she told me that was the reason for the big pile of unopened packages in her foyer.) So cute, right? I already do this with Christmas gifts, but I really like the idea of doing it for birthdays (and waiting to open any bday cards as well).

Speaking of birthdays, here’s a cute old Terri post you might like: 17 Fun And Different Birthday Ideas If You're Really Not Into Parties.

Anyway, it’s August, I’m finally going to get my free Drunk Elephant gift at Sephora, and I’m going to wait and start using it on my birthday next week! 🎉

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Just good summer reading

Close-up photo of the novel  Valley of the Dolls  being read on the beach

When I think about the best summer reading, I think of really entertaining books that you’ll enjoy enough to want to binge read (see also: this great NYT article). But I don’t think they have to be pure fluff! To me, a great summer read should feel less like eating a ton of candy, and more like eating a delicious meal made up of of assorted dips, juicy fruits, delicious crostini, a couple of amazing pasta salads, some great Trader Joe’s appetizers, and sparkling water. It’s satisfying and filling (even if/when it’s light), and consuming it brings real pleasure.

So with that in mind, here are some of my favorites!

Fiction

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

I haven’t read this book in a few years, but it’s one I think of as best in class when it comes to light summer reads. Reading it feels like watching a great Nancy Meyers movie; it’s entertaining and goes down smoothly and easily.

Buy it for $9.70+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

Every summer, I get what can only be described as a craving to read Valley of the Dolls. The book is pure camp and I love it. It also has one of the best elements of a great summer novel: rich people and their rich people problems. I might actually start reading it again tonight because it’s been a few years!

Buy it for $7.99+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

The Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante

When I think about these four books — My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child — I just feel such genuine fondness and appreciation for them. (By the way, I actually didn’t really get into My Brilliant Friend until the last few chapters, but then I was all in.)

Buy My Brilliant Friend for $9.32+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Euginedes

The first time I finished Middlesex, I felt like I'd just read a memoir, not a work of fiction. It’s one of my all-time faves. Also, I had heard the audiobook was better than the book itself, which I found preposterous but…the audiobook is truly excellent.

Buy it for $9.99+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar

This was one of my favorite books of 2015, and reminded me just how good short story collections can be. (Also, short story collections feel very summery to me and I don’t know why.)

Buy it from Amazon for $5.10+ or find it at a local bookstore on IndieBound.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Most of this book takes place in the summer and it has loads of “classic novel you read on summer break between junior and senior years” energy.

Buy it for $10.80+ from Amazon or find it at a local bookstore on IndieBound.

A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand

I went back and forth on including this one because I think it’s fluffier than most of my other picks…but I also really enjoyed it (and The Rumor and Beautiful Day, two other Elin Hilderbrand novels I’ve finished this week) and I think Hilderband is so good at what she does that it’s worth your consideration!

Buy it for $7.99+ from Amazon or find it at a local bookstore on IndieBound.

Non-fiction

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

I’ve read almost all of David Sedaris’s books, but Me Talk Pretty One Day is probably my all-time favorite; I think it has the highest concentration of David Sedaris lines/anecdotes that I think about a lot. Also: the audiobook version (which David Sedaris narrates) is fantastic — so good for road trips.

Buy it for $10.38+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard

It took more than one recommendation from Terri for me to finally read this book, but once I did, I had to admit: it’s amazing. Like, couldn’t put it down amazing; I’m happy to report I’m now a James Garfield stan.

Buy it for $12.99+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyou

By now, you’ve surely watched or listened to or read something about Elizabeth Holmes, but this book is the OG for a reason. It’s gripping (and way better than the podcasts or documentaries have been) and totally worth it.

Buy it for $12.13+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

This book reads like a novel and, despite being about the Civil War, is a bit lighter than you might expect (while still being very informative). If you’re the kind of person who’d prefer to spend their summer vacation taking trips to Gettysburg and the like, this one’s for you.

Buy it for $11.99+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound. 📚


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Some questions to consider before having a tough conversation

Image: Kiyana Salkeld / Just Good Shit

Image: Kiyana Salkeld / Just Good Shit

I recently read a 2016 HBR article about when to skip difficult conversations, and it included a checklist of 11 questions to ask yourself that I thought were really smart/helpful. Here are a few of my favorites from the list:

  • What is my “secret agenda” or “hidden hope” for this conversation? (Long-term harmony? Revenge? That they will change?)

  • What’s my contribution to the situation?

  • Do I tend to look for problems with this person or about this issue?

  • How long ago did it arise? Is it a repeat or recurring problem? Could it become one?

  • How committed am I to being “right”?

  • What reasonable, actionable solution can I offer?

  • Is this the right person to talk to about this issue?

It’s so easy to come up with excuses to justify skipping a tough conversation (“it doesn’t really matter, they won’t change anyway”)…or to make something your problem when it’s actually not just because you’re horny for conflict and justice. These questions are a good way to step outside some of those feelings and get a clearer sense of the best way to proceed.

P.S. Some related reading: tips to keep in mind if you want to be a better conversationalist + just a bunch of good things to read if you want to be a better manager. 💬

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Two cheap and easy ways to upgrade your phone charger

ACS_0230.jpg

Here are two phone-related tips that I’ve found helpful in general, but especially during group trip season.

1. Get a 6-foot phone charger.

A long charger is just nice to have, but it’s particularly useful when you’re traveling, and may not be staying somewhere that has outlets near the bed/couch/whatever.

Buy a single 6-foot charger from Amazon for $7.99, or get a two-pack (which is what I did) for $15.98.

2. Label your charger/cord with washi tape.

When you have several people with iPhones staying in the same place, it’s natural that chargers will get shared or lent out from time to time. Instead of attempting returning chargers to their rightful owners based on whose is frayed in a particular way, you can just label yours with washi tape so you can easily spot it at a glance. (I also found it helpful to do this with my work laptop charger and the phone charger I kept at my desk!)

You can get a roll of washi tape in the scrapbook section at Target or Michaels for a couple dollars, or get a beautiful set of 28 rolls from Amazon for $14.99. 📱

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Two tips to keep in mind if you want to be a better conversationalist

Image: Kiyana Salkeld / Just Good Shit

Image: Kiyana Salkeld / Just Good Shit

I recently read We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter by Celeste Headlee, which I really liked. The book has a lot of great, practical tips for being a better listener and better speaker — based in scientific research, and Headlee’s career as a radio host.

Since I’m sure none of us want to turn into the living embodiment of “I am feel uncomfortable when we are not about me?”, I thought I’d share two of my favorite tips for talking a little less (or just a bit more effectively) from the book here.

01. Stay out of the weeds

Getting into the weeds when you’re talking means you’ve lost the main path of a story, and are instead “wandering aimlessly in a field of trivial details.” Here’s more from Headlee:

“Getting into the weeds often sounds like this: ‘We went to Italy in 2006. No, was it 2007? Wait, it must have been 2005 because it was just after I took that job in Boston. I think that’s right. Sharon would know for sure.’ By the time you get back to the real story, your friend is staring at you with glassy eyes and considering making a break for it to get a latte.

The business psychiatrist Mark Goulston says we only have about 40 seconds to speak during a conversation before we run the risk of dominating the exchange. He describes the first 20 seconds as the green light, when the other person likes you and is enjoying what you have to say. The next 20 seconds are the yellow light, when ‘the other person is beginning to lose interest or think you’re long-winded.’ At 40 seconds, Goulston says, the light turns read and it’s time to stop talking.

Take a moment to gauge just how long 40 seconds is. Look at the second hand on your clock or watch, start to tell a story, and stop when you’ve hit 40 seconds. That’s not a lot of time! If you waste it with superfluous detail, you’ll never get to the meat of your message.”

FORTY SECONDS!!! That is…not very many seconds! Here’s Headlee again:

“We can also end up there when we feel compelled to correct the fine print of someone else’s story. Imagine a friend is telling you about a scary skiing accident. He says that after he was airlifted to the nearest hospital, he received an emergency MRI to see if his ribs were broken. You jump in and say, ‘Well actually, the MRI wouldn’t show your ribs. An MRI only shows soft tissues. Are you sure it wasn’t an X-ray?’ You have just steered a conversation (and possibly a friendship) into the weeds.

The onus is on you to determine what information is essential and what is unnecessary. That can be difficult sometimes. But if you’re thinking about it, you’re already making progress. All too often, we continue to spout information without consciously considering if we should.

The next time you find yourself providing a lot of detail about a personal matter, take a close look at the other person’s face. Are they looking at something else besides you? Are they stifling a yawn? If so, they might be trying to escape. Forget about what year you bought your first Toyota, and move the story along. Your friends, family, coworkers, baristas, and cashiers will thank you.”

02. No repeats

I once had a boss tell me, “Take yes for an answer.” He was basically saying, I agree with you, you’ve won me over — why are you still talking about it? The comment made me a lot more aware of the ways I might be repeating myself in conversations, regardless of whether the other person is saying yes, no, or something else entirely.

Here’s Headlee on this topic (Italics mine):

“Repetition is the conversational equivalent of marching in place. It’s not interesting and it doesn’t move the conversation forward. We sometimes assume repeating information helps drill it into someone’s head. After all, we’re taught from a young age to repeat the information we want to learn. … These types of repetition [e.g, flash cards, repeating dates in your head] help you to retain new types of learning for one key reason: you’re the one repeating the information. Research shows that when we repeat something multiple times, it ups our chances of remembering it. The benefit increases if we repeat that information to another person, but the benefit isn’t shared with the person listening. So if you’re in a meeting and you repeat a deadline to your team four times, you’ll probably remember it well but your team members are no more likely to retain it than if you’d mentioned it only once.”

Basically: if you’re repeating yourself because you don’t feel like you’re being heard, well…you’re probably not doing yourself any favors. “Often, when someone hears the same thing for a second and third time, they think, ‘I already know this,’ and they stop listening,” Headlee says. So, why do we do keep doing it? Headlee says it’s often the result of wanting to keep a conversation going, but having nothing new to add.

Repetition is particularly noxious when you’re repeating negative statements. If you’re upset with someone and just keep saying, “You fucked up and I feel away about it” over and over again, they are likely going to get frustrated and tune you out — not suddenly have a light bulb moment and apologize the fifth time you say it.

And it doesn’t even have to be direct criticism to make the other person feel bad; even if you’re not saying “you, personally, fucked up,” repeating a negative comment about a situation can still bring the other person down. For example, if your friend selected a restaurant for lunch and then the server was rude, your order came out cold, and they forgot to bring you the refill you asked for…and you just keep repeating “ugh, this sucks” and “I’m so disappointed” and “I can’t believe how terrible that service was” over and over again…it can start to feel like criticism to your friend, who feels responsible for your displeasure, even if it’s clearly not their fault.

Here’s Headlee again:

“Try to become aware of how often you repeat yourself, and think about what might be prompting you to do it. Do you feel like you’re not getting the acknowledgement you need from the other person? Has he or she failed to follow through on things in the past? Are there too many distractions present when you’re trying to have a conversation (i.e., saying something important while your kid is playing a video game might not be a good idea)? Are you prone to ramble in your conversations?

Over the next few weeks, get into the habit of pausing for a couple of seconds before you respond to someone. Before you repeat yourself, take a moment to find something new to say. You can even ask your friends to tell you when you’re repeating something. I had my son say ‘echo’ every time I started repeating things, and after hearing it a few dozen times, I began to break the habit.”


The whole book is very good; I really recommend it, especially if you’re a manager! You might also want to check out Celeste Headlee’s TED Talk: 10 ways to have a better conversation. ✨

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Should you happen to find yourself spinning out, try cleaning your bathroom

Image: Bernard Hermant / Unsplash

Image: Bernard Hermant / Unsplash

Whenever I find myself pacing around my apartment and kind of spiraling, dealing with a brain-on-fire situation — when I’m overwhelmed and I know I should do something but I can’t decide what it should be so I’m doing nothing and everything all at once — I’ve gotten in the habit of just…cleaning my bathroom. Like, I don’t overthink it; I just go and do it. And 15-20 minutes later (which is about how long it takes me to clean my bathroom, despite what I might tell myself when I’m avoiding doing it), my sink is sparkling and I feel so much better.

Why is cleaning the bathroom the perfect activity in these moments? I think it’s because it tends to be a relatively quick and contained chore — unlike, say, cleaning your closet, which you’ll start with the best of intentions and then somehow spend $75 ordering hangers online before falling asleep on piles of clothes — BUT it’s just long enough to distract you and redirect your energy, to get the headspace required to make a decision, to gain a sense of accomplishment, and to basically press the reset button in a panic moment. And because it’s one area of your home that could pretty much always benefit from a little cleaning! 🛁

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Very good beach shit

summer beach gear.png

Last summer, I — after a lifetime of being Not Really A Beach Person — became a person who genuinely enjoys a day at the beach! The trick? Good gear. (Turns out, the secret to everything is just…having money.) In my experience, the beach isn’t a particularly comfortable place to be, and you really do need gear to offset that. Like, I can only sit on a towel reading — in direct sunlight!! — for so long before my body starts aching, you know? Having better gear made a world of difference; I was cool and comfortable and able to stay out for hours last year. And those beach days made me feel relaxed, happy, and whole, so I really am glad I found a way to make them happen.

Here’s the beach gear I love and recommend:

The Chair

Image:  Amazon

Image: Amazon

I love Rio Brands Deluxe Aluminum Backpack Chair ($42.96 on Amazon). Fun fact: I liked this chair so much after sitting in one at my friend Alanna’s parents’ house that, two years later, I dug up the photos I took of it at the time so I could figure out what the brand was and order one of my own! It’s so good: comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, lightweight. I love the adjustable pillow and the fact that you can wear it like a backpack when you’re walking to the beach. (Also, the cupholder is very handy!) I really don’t think I could do a long beach day without a good chair! I have it blue, but the blue one is inexplicably $70 at the moment, so maybe go with the red?

If you want a less expensive but still great chair, I ordered the Rio Gear Original Steel Backpack Chair ($25.97 on Amazon) and had it shipped to my mom’s house before my family’s trip to Saugatuck last summer, and it was also great. I’ll be using it again when we head to Saugatuck this summer! And if you want something similar to these two but a little roomier, this Tommy Bahama chair ($54.09 on Amazon) has a bigger seat and a maximum weight of 300 lbs.

What I really want is the white (!!!) “Rolls-Royce of beach chairs” ($141 on Amazon) with its matching canopy ($44.95 on Amazon). It’s pricey but it’s apparently built to last a decade. Someday!

The Tent

I’m obsessed with my Lovin' Summer Beach Tent ($150) and recommend it to everyone. I received mine as a PR gift back in 2015 and I love it. Every time I take it to the beach, multiple people come by to ask me where I got it; it's beautiful and just really unique looking. It's also just so practical; it provides a truly impressive amount of shade, but still allows for a wonderful breeze flow through. It's really easy to enter and exit, and it's super stable. It's also very lightweight and packs down in a bag that's similar in size to a yoga bag, so I can store it under my bed. If you go to the beach a few times a year, or if you are planning a days-long beach vacation, I think it's completely worth it.

My only caveat is that you should watch the video of how to set it up before you take it to the beach; the instructions are very confusingly written, and while the setup isn’t hard at all, it’s also not intuitive. (That said, the first time I ever took it out, I wasn't nearby when my friends set it up. When I got back to our area, it was fully assembled and they all said it was very easy!)

Anyway, because you may not get good cell service on the beach, you should watch that setup video and save some photos of how it looks when assembled to your camera roll before you head out. Once we figured out a couple crucial details, it came together really easily and quickly. (The setup and breakdown takes about 10 minutes.) You also could also easily string some battery-operated twinkle lights on the interior bar for evenings on the beach or for backyard camping type activities!

The Hat

Image:  Amazon

Image: Amazon

My current summer hat is a wide brim sun visor/hat ($12.99 on Amazon, available in 10 colors). For years, I wanted a good visor; my goal was "Offred, but make it summer." I mainly wanted something that would keep the sun off my face while I'm walking to and from the train every day — so I didn't want anything overly sporty/beachy. After discovering that most cute visors cost $150 (?!), I finally found what I was looking for in this visor. This visor completely keeps the sun off my face (and means I don't have to fuck with sunglasses / can wear my glasses to the beach). Also, the bow detail in the back is really cute! But, full disclosure: by September, it was falling apart, so I will be buying another one this summer.

Some other good beach shit:



The Cooler

I bought a cooler bag ($38.95 on Amazon) for picnics and the beach a few weeks ago but haven’t taken it out yet. But it looks/seems great!

The Towel

Last summer, I started using a beach towel from The Beach People ($49.50+). This was a PR gift and it's really lovely. (The exact one I have isn't on their site at the moment.) I don't think you need a fancy towel to enjoy the beach...but as someone who loves soft things and great towels, having a big blanket-like towel (seriously, it’s so blush) that matches my general aesthetic made me pretty happy. 

The Shoes

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, the Hurricane Drift Tevas ($40 from Zappos) are great, and are perfect for the beach. If you want to get them in white, my friend Marisa recommends cleaning them with a Magic Eraser, which is genius.

I’m also super curious about these Sea Star Beachwear waterproof espadrilles ($89), because I’m always on the lookout for closed-toe beach/summer shoes. (Terri also pointed out that they might be good for rainy summer days when it’s too warm to wear boots.)

The Beach

It’s Jacob Riis Beach for me! ⛱

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How to be laid off

Folks, Terri is back! Today she’s here to offer some good practical advice for surviving a layoff. —Rachel ✨

Image: Kiyana Salkeld / Just Good Shit

Image: Kiyana Salkeld / Just Good Shit

Back in January, I got laid off from my job along with Rachel, our entire team, and 200 or so other coworkers. I’ve been working in media for the past seven years and have watched the industry shift and shrink. I’ve witnessed layoffs happen around me, both at work and to my close friends, and yet when it happened to me, I was completely floored. As in, on the floor crying in shock.

I don’t know if anything could’ve prepared me for the sting and multiple stages of grief that accompanied losing my job — the numbness, the confusion, the anger, the hurt, the bargaining, the desperation — but I do know that being laid off is an incredibly specific state of being. It’s also probably different for everyone who experiences it. Some people are relieved, some quickly pivot to the next thing, some people have had something like this happen to them many times before and already have their go-bag packed. But for me, and a lot of people I’ve talked to (turns out, LOTS of people I know have been in similar situations, especially in the past six months), the experience of being laid off and the time that ensues generally follow the same outline.

So, should you find yourself in that boat, here are some tips that helped me survive my layoff:

  1. Take time to absorb the shock.
    Even if your layoff wasn’t unexpected, moving from a reliable schedule of spending most days feeling productive with the same people to...not...is a major life change. I tried to fend off the Bads by networking and setting up freelance opportunities literally the day after getting laid off. A week later, I had a full-on meltdown right in front of CVS because I was feeling like a part of my identity was gone. I’d loved my job. I led with it during small talk; I cherished the work I did and still look back on it with pride. Instead of gradually acknowledging this truth by letting it seep into my consciousness, I’d try to shoo it away. As a result, had a big old “Come to Jesus” cry on the phone with my mom in public that, blessedly, the citizens of New York let me carry on in peace. (I do love New Yorkers.) After that, I gave myself a weeklong break from any kind of work/job searching, which helped a lot.

  2. Also, unfollow/mute/cut your former employer out of your life if you need to.
    Losing your job is like going through a breakup! Especially if you worked somewhere that has a big social media presence! Seeing them continue on as normal can infect still-fresh wounds, so just block them out for a while. You can always re-follow later, or ask trusted friends to give you only the most important highlights. After a while, you might realize you don’t even care about them anyway.

  3. Realize that you will probably deal with constant guilt.
    I was not prepared for the crushing waves of guilt that happened every time I stopped doing anything job-related. With a lot more “free” time, it’s easy to feel like you need to spend all of it looking for and applying to jobs, networking, doing side gigs to scrape together money… anything that feels “productive.” And yes, job hunting really is a full-time job. But! You still need to, like, clean your home and bathe and maybe even go read a book for pleasure in a coffee shop. There is literally nothing wrong with doing any of those things, even though it feels like a violation of some kind of rule. Not being on a regular work schedule means you can very easily do worky-type things all day, but if the circumstances allow, try to avoid that. Because I was lucky to have a good enough savings and severance to augment job-related stuff with more less goal-oriented tasks, I was able to create some rules and guidelines to free myself of guilt. Maybe for you, that means you get one (1) matinee movie for every three jobs you apply to, or maybe that means carving out nap time every day because you need it. The guilt of not doing “enough” never truly goes away, but accepting it and telling it that it doesn’t need to define your laid-off self helps.

  4. Start making a daily schedule.
    You’ll be doing a lot of the same things over and over: You’ll send a lot of introductory emails, spend an equal amount of time willing certain emails to pop up in your inbox, wash endless dishes, spend countless hours alone (a nightmare for an extrovert like me), and become invested in the personal lives of daytime TV personalities. A schedule helps with the monotony and with the guilt.

  5. Figure out your lunches.
    One of the most thoughtful things someone asked me after I got laid off was, “What have you been eating?” Turns out, feeding your stupid body thrice a day is really annoying! At least when I was working, lunch was provided twice a week, and on the others, I could run out and buy something. But alone in my apartment without a steady income, I had to...make?? Food?? I’m not a great cook and I have a tiny-ass kitchen, and every time my stomach grumbled at 1 p.m. I cursed the human digestive system (and my former employer lolololol). I ended up making a lot of toast. There were many fried eggs in there, too, along with many bowls of Corn Flakes and simple dishes like chickpea pasta and lemon butter pasta. I usually love eating, but during the long, lonely days, food was sustenance, and comforting meals like these were manageable and filling. All you need is a few go-to meals to make lunchtime a little less awful.

  6. Accept that paperwork for health insurance and unemployment fucking sucks.
    Figuring this out was so stress-inducing that I asked my friend at one point if it was even worth collecting unemployment (it is, but getting money has hardly ever been less fun). Don’t beat yourself up if your heart is racing and you feel sweaty by the time you’re done with these tasks.

  7. Don’t be afraid to tell your loved ones what you need.
    When I’m struggling, I need to talk and let it out and just be with people. Pretty much everyone in my family and friend groups showed up for me in a massive way after my layoff, presenting their shoulders to me when I hadn’t even asked for one to cry on. But some people thought I needed space or that I didn’t want to talk about it or that I was doing fine. I had to say, “I am constantly grieving, but this is what I need from you if you want to be there for me.” And you know what? That’s OK! Some people needed the nudge and were relieved to be told what to do in a weird and awkward time. It’s an incredibly vulnerable, raw thing, but I’ve felt closer to my friends and family than ever since getting laid off because I was open with them.

  8. Lean into activities, if you can manage them.
    Since getting laid off, I’ve become obsessed with crosswords and the New York Times’s Spelling Bee game, tracked my Jeopardy! Coryat score, and done many jigsaw puzzles. I have not, however, become a gym rat or a master baker like I said I would. I only had the bandwidth to do so much, and I’m happy I was able to hone a few new activities during this shitty time. (Related: A case for having activities instead of hobbies.)

  9. Lean into the good things that accompany being laid off that you might miss when it’s over.
    Since being laid off, I’ve had weekday lunches at hard-to-get-into restaurants and spent quality time with friends who’d also lost their jobs. I’ve easily scheduled midday doctors appointments. I’m a terrible sleeper, and my new loosey-goosey schedule has been so generous to my restless nights. I’ve seen my parents a lot more than usual, and forgotten about Sunday Scaries (although they’ve been replaced by constant existential ennui, so…). I’ve gotten to spend some gorgeous spring days outside while people with jobs are stuck at their desks. I watched all of Fleabag and rewatched many old episodes of The Real Housewives of New York. I’ve traveled and felt more spontaneous than I did on a constricted, 10-6 schedule. Being laid off isn’t all bad, but I’d be lying if I said it was easy to enjoy these perks unreservedly (see: guilt). I know that when I start working a regular job again, I’ll wistfully remember that chunk of time when I didn’t have to set a morning alarm. But I also know those things are small, cold comforts in an epically terrible time. Know that it’s OK if you can’t summon much gratitude right now. ✨

Terri Pous is a writer, editor, two-day Jeopardy! champ, and an Aries. She loves abbrevs, reality TV, obscure facts about the US presidents, and the 🥴 emoji. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @terripous, and on sidewalks @ petting every dog.

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I just really love Paperless Post Flyers

I mentioned Paperless Post Flyers a few months ago in my newsletter, but because they got such a good reaction (seriously, very rarely do people reach out to tell me they liked a thing, but multiple people told me they found the Flyers mention helpful) and because I was just working on one last night, I thought I’d mention them again!

The flyers (which are free!) are perfect for casual parties/gatherings. The templates and available images/gifs are trendy and cute, and you can also customize them/upload your own stuff. And they look good on mobile! (You can view the live — far less blurry! — version of the example flyer shown above here on desktop or mobile. BTW, I turned off the RSVP button — since it’s a fake party — but every template has the option.) I also love that you have the option to text people the link to the flyer (vs. having of send it over email). Mainly, they offer a much-needed alternative to FB party invites.

Overall, they are just a bit cooler than regular Paperless Post e-vites — truly more like a flyer than a traditional mailed invitation. Since we’re heading into summer party season, I thought it was worth putting them back on everyone’s radar! 🎉

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Here's an extremely cute idea for your next museum visit

I recently came across a very charming idea in the book Cozy by Isabel Gilles:

“A friend of mine gets a postcard from every museum she visits, and instead of saving it to someday give away, on the back of the postcard, she writes the name of who she was with and the date, and then sticks it up on her wall.”


As a journaler and a human who is extremely here for pretty souvenirs that only cost a couple of bucks, I love this idea! It would be a cute one to do with a partner or with kiddos. It’s so simple and straightforward and wholesome! 🏛

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The joy of Friday Jr.

My friend Sally and I are kind of obsessed with Bitmojis. We send them back and forth to each other a lot, and delight in finding new ones that are particularly silly and/or useful.

For example, here’s our exchange from the first time I completed the New York Times crossword:

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And here’s the start of a Monday morning text convo:

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And one from earlier this week:

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But our all-time favorite Bitmoji, hands down, is the Friday Jr. Bitmoji.

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After Sally discovered it a couple of years ago, we started sending it to each other every week. One of us would text our version of it, and then the other would reply with her version of it. We do this pretty much every Thursday and it…never gets old. As Sally put it, “I feel like Thursdays were already just conceptually great, but in a way that we didn’t as a culture fully appreciate until Friday Jr. was invented.”

We also can’t get over the idea of calling the day before a different day “junior,” and have taken to applying the underlying logic to many other dates and events. Consider this: Christmas Eve is actually Christmas Jr. (And December 23 is Christmas Eve Jr.) Saturday is Sunday Jr. and May is Pride Jr.

The junior convention has caught on in our bigger friend group, and our partners now use it regularly too. (My favorite Friday Jr. exchange was the time I texted Sally the Bitmoji — fairly early on in our FJ history, if I recall correctly — and she replied that at the exact moment my text came through, her wife had said, unprompted from across the room, “Hey girl — it’s Friday Jr.” )

I enjoy Bitmoji unironically; I like texting, but sometimes it’s hard to communicate “I received your message, and I feel neutral-posi toward its contents” without having tone and body language to rely on. And if you text a lot, there are only so many times you can say “ooh” in reply to something before you start to worry it looks like you’re not paying attention. A well-deployed Bitmoji helps! Also, a lot of my friends have mentioned that they find Bitmojis are particularly helpful for communicating with parents — particularly parents whose first language isn’t English — and other family members.

I asked Sally to share her thoughts on Bitmojis as I was working on this, and here’s what she said:


"Sometimes Bitmoji express feelings that I otherwise wouldn't know how to express — like you know that joke where people are like ‘what is the German word for [complex feeling with five different distinct constituent feelings]’? This is a thing Bitmoji do SO well — encapsulate feelings comprised of a cool 5-6 distinct feelings.

For example you have 'I H8 U' with a pic of your Bitmoji smiling gleefully. You have 'I helped' and one of the E's is backwards which is perfect for expressing 'I tried to help and I fucked it all up, my bad, but give me credit for helping.' Then you have the ones where the Bitmoji is doing the reaction WITH the emoji of that reaction — so like laughing so hard you're crying and one hand is on the laughing-so-hard-you're-crying emoji.

Also the fact that there are three different versions of a hump day Bitmoji — so that you can express exhaustion, elation, or perseverance — is truly amazing because those are the three ways to feel about Wednesdays which I didn't realize till Bitmoji told me!

The other thing they are amazing for is if you are communicating with someone who REALLY GETS YOU, you can use a weird Bitmoji and the person will so get the spirit in which you mean it. It just gives you another way to express yourself."

I would love for some enterprising tech journalists to do a deep dive on how Bitmoji designs happen — the main people responsible for them, which ones are the most popular, which ones users hated, which ones caused the most internal debate, etc. — and I would love to know who is responsible for our beloved Friday Jr. and what inspired them.

Until then, happy Friday Jr.! ✨

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Make cut flowers last longer by putting them in the fridge at night

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Here’s a little tip for anyone who is giving or receiving Mother’s Day flowers this weekend, or who just can’t resist buying a bunch at Trader Joe’s every week: If you want a bouquet of fresh flowers to last for a while, stick them in the fridge every night (and/or during the day while you’re at work).

I’ve been doing this for years and it works remarkably well. Like, I’m always genuinely surprised by how fresh the flowers stay when I employ this trick, even when they are several days old. (It’s especially helpful in the warmer months if you don’t have AC.) I have a small fridge so it’s not always possible to put fresh flowers in it, but I’ll usually stick the vase in the door shelf where you’re meant to put milk and it works out fine.

Speaking of fresh flowers, I’m a big fan of The Bouqs and Urban Stems for fresh flower delivery to long-distance friends and loved ones! I’ve always been impressed by their bouquets, user experience, and customer service. (This is not an ad BTW — I just really like them.)

Anyway: put your fresh flowers in the fridge! 💐

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The best lemon candle is Williams Sonoma's Meyer lemon candle

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A couple of years ago, I went on a mission to find a great lemon candle. I tried two options — Mrs. Meyer's Lemon Verbena* and a lemon lavender candle from Target — and was super disappointed, as both smelled way too herbal to reasonably be called a lemon candle. (They are perfectly nice candles, but not what I was looking for.) I just wanted a pure-ass lemon candle! And much to my chagrin, no one on the internet could tell me which lemon candle was the lemon candle I was seeking.

I briefly entertained the idea of buying allllll the lemon candles from major retailers and doing a Wirecutter-esque test for a BuzzFeed post, but it didn’t actually end up coming to that! A friend suggested the Williams Sonoma Meyer lemon candle ($19.95), and without having tried any additional non-herbal lemon candles, I can confidently say that this is the best lemon candle in existence. TBH, I didn’t even know that Williams Sonoma sold candles, so I was genuinely surprised by this.

The Meyer lemon candle has a very lovely, very sweet lemon smell, and it’s not too strong. It’s my favorite candle to light after cleaning my kitchen or bathroom (one of my favorite little rituals) and just one of my favorite candles general. I also really love the look of the candle; the light yellow color is so pretty, and I just love the simple, label-free glass jar. I’ve burned through three of these since first discovering them.

Get the candle from Williams Sonoma for $19.95. 🍋

*I recently learned that lemon verbena is not lemon plus verbena (which for years I assumed — based solely on Bath & Body Works’ early 2000s Coconut Lime Verbena label — was some kind of green plant). Turns out, lemon verbena is an entirely different plant!

PS I can’t talk about candles without thinking about the viral “I MIGHT Boycott Bath & Body Works (RANT)” video and this reenactment of it, two videos my former BF team and I are lightly obsessed with. We probably re-watched those videos and cried laughing every other month, and still reference Angela and her rant all the time. So please put on your headphones and enjoy one of my personal “I think about this a lot”s!

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Here’s my little hack for using every last cent on a Visa/Amex prepaid gift card

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Prepaid gift cards from brands like American Express and Visa make a lot of sense in theory. Like gift cards, they release you from the psychological horror of handing your loved ones cold, hard cash, but you can use them anywhere you can use credit cards, so they offer the receiver more flexibility than a store gift card. Great!

However, if you’ve ever received one, you may have discovered that they don't work like store gift cards in one major, critical way: if you swipe, say, a $25 Macy's gift card when making a $50 Macy's purchase, it'll take the $25 off your purchase and then you can pay the remaining balance with cash or your debit card. But if you try to use a $25 Visa gift card on a $50 Macy’s purchase, the card will get declined — because you’re essentially asking it to go over its limit. The only way to keep this from happening is to tell the person ringing you up, “I want to put $25 on this card” before you swipe the Visa gift card, so they can split the tender accordingly. This isn’t ideal, but it’s fine for a nice, solid number like $25.

But! It becomes a much bigger hassle when your $100 Visa gift card now has, say, $14.77 on it. It’s highly likely that at some point, there’s going to be such a weird/small amount left on the card that you’re going to be too embarrassed to ask a retail worker to “just put $4.36 on this card,” so instead you’re just going to deprive yourself of the full value of the gift card. I’m not saying this is what Big Credit Card wants to happen, but I do think these little amounts of cash left on thousands of gift cards add up for them in a way that they…do not hate. The whole thing has annoyed me for years, ever since I was on the other end of the transaction when I worked in retail in college.

(Also: to even be able to do what I outlined above, you have to keep track of the exact balance on the gift card, which requires going to a website and inputting the card number and PIN every time you want to check how much is left on it.)

All this to say: Visa and American Express and Mastercard prepaid gift cards are way more high-maintenance than they should be, and even though this is a minor hassle in the grand scheme of things, it’s still a hassle at the end of the day. But! After receiving a high-value prepaid Visa gift card last year and getting sick of checking the balance all the time, I figured out a really simple and easy workaround that allows you to actually use every penny on said card: Once the gift card is down to a stupidly small amount that you don’t feel like fucking with, you can just go to Amazon and buy yourself an e-gift card for the exact amount on the Visa gift card. So if there’s $7.83 on the Visa card, you can simply buy yourself a $7.83 Amazon gift card.

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Once you’ve put in the exact amount and your personal details (including your own email address), add the gift card to your cart. Then head to check out, choose “add new payment method,” and put in the details of the prepaid gift card there (just like it’s a regular credit/debit card). You now have now successfully turned your prepaid gift card into a normal store gift card, and it’ll work as such — deducting that $7.83 from your next Amazon purchase, and letting you pay the remaining amount due, just as God intended. 🛍

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9 things that have made me a calmer, better cook

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I...did not grow up in a household where cooking for guests looked or felt chill in ANY way, so I really admire this quality in others and am trying to cultivate it in myself — whether I’m cooking for guests or just for myself. I’m not, like, Mrs. Doubtfire with her titties on fire when I’m cooking, but things like always knowing where the measuring spoon I need is, or not getting flustered or buried in disgusting dirty dishes while I’m cooking actually take work for me.

For the past six months or so, my thought has been, OK, if I’m going to cook, I’m going to really cook — because if I’m investing the time and money in making food, I want the food to actually taste good, and I find that being more focused when I’m cooking helps a lot in that regard. Also, being more focused when cooking also just...feels nice! Multitasking is bad and ineffective, while being present and accomplishing a task in one go is soothing and satisfying. I’ve found that I dread cooking a lot less now that I’m approaching it in this way.


Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful in my mission to be a less stressed cook:

  1. Actually read the entire recipe start to finish before you make it.

    This may seem obvious, but I used to just skim recipes before making them for the first time, and there was often a big gap between when I skimmed it (when I first came across it online) and when I actually made it (possibly weeks later). So now I read the recipe all the way through right before I get started to make sure I understand how I’ll actually be putting the ingredients together.

  2. Along with reading the recipe in advance, also pull out everything you’ll need in advance — so measuring cups and spoons, cutting boards, spices that are in the back of your pantry, etc.

    This step might seem kind of fussy, but it’s not like pulling everything out as you go saves you time (and in my case, I’ve found it actually takes more time).

  3. Take this a step further and measure/chop all your ingredients in advance.

    I recentlyish got into the habit of doing this with new recipes, when I wanted to be extra conscientious and careful so I didn’t mess them up. It makes me feel like a fancy TV chef, and is a reminder that all those cooking shows with their cute little prep bowls are really onto something. Again, doing this can feel kind of fussy, and it might actually add a little more time in the long run, but I think it’s worth it, especially if it keeps me from screwing up a recipe or wasting ingredients because I was rushing and made a mistake.

  4. Use your dishwasher as a holding pen.

    If you’re using a lot of bulky dishes (like mixing bowls) and your sink is filling up, but you don’t have time to stop and wash everything, just stick it in the dishwasher — even if it’s not dishwasher safe, or even if you haven’t rinsed it first. Basically, your dishwasher isn’t just a dishwasher — it’s also a fantastic storage spot. (This is especially helpful in a smaller kitchen.) You can always pull things out after the fact to hand wash them or rinse them. I hate when my sink starts to fill up with dirty dishes, and this helps so much in terms of maintaining a cleaner kitchen/an overall feeling of calm.

  5. Use a bowl to collect food scraps/trash while you cook.

    My least favorite part of cooking is chopping produce, and I hate being surrounded by the wet scraps as I’m chopping. But I recently watched my friend’s boyfriend cook dinner (this delicious Ina Garten pasta) and put all the scraps (stems, rinds, etc.) in a medium-sized bowl as he did. He’s a very calm/clean cook, so I was immediately very into this concept. I’ve tried in the past to use produce bags for this, and it was never super effective. But a bowl works so much better. (I think the fact that he used a genuinely beautiful white bowl helped too.) I realized later he was likely doing this so they could compost everything, but even if you’re not composting, it’s still SO nice to not have to keep going over to your garbage can every 60 seconds.

  6. Put your phone in Do Not Disturb mode so you’re not distracted by texts or other notifications while you’re cooking.

    This is particularly helpful if the recipe is on your phone and you can’t avoid looking at your phone when you’re cooking.

  7. Related: if you’re going to make an IG story while you cook, just save the photos/videos to your phone for later instead of posting them in real time.

    Here’s an embarrassing story: I once burned the butter for lemon butter pasta because I was posting shit to my IG story while the butter was supposed to be melting (something that doesn’t take very long at all, turns out). I had to throw the butter out, clean the pot, and start over. This was extremely dumb! Since then, I’ve stopped posting cooking stuff in real time, and in general I don’t take a lot of pics/video while I’m cooking unless I know that I have like a solid five minutes before the next step.

  8. Make time.

    I rarely try new recipes on busy weeknights, or when I am getting home on the later side. And if I realize the day of that I’m going to be rushed, I’ll often change my plans and make a recipe I’ve already mastered and save the new recipe for a different night.

  9. And maybe don’t try that many new recipes overall.

    I tend to limit myself to one new recipe per week (if that!) because I’ve found that cooking new recipes — even easyish ones! — takes effort. I get very cranky with myself* if I’m putting that energy in several nights a week. But doing it once a week feels challenging in a good way, and has the added benefit of helping me master other recipes. (Which is why I can basically make chickpea pasta in my sleep now.) 👩🏽‍🍳 

*Because I have no one to blame but myself! Literally no one is making me try new recipes!


A case for having activities instead of hobbies

Friends! Today we have a post from Terri Pous, who was my first hire at BuzzFeed, and whose work I had the pleasure of editing every day for three years. Like me, she lives by the mantra ABR (always be recommending). —Rachel ✨

One of my least favorite questions is, “So, what do you for fun?” I always imagine people expect me to talk about a stamp collection, or a passion for knitting, or some other kind of hobby that conveniently fills time and gives you something to show for it. But I’m not a hobby person; I much prefer activities.

And, I get it: depending on your definition of “hobby,” activities could easily count as the same thing. To me, though, all hobbies are activities, but not all activities are hobbies. Lying on the grass in the park on a nice day? Activity! Going to the park every weekend with your Nat Geo field guide to identify the birds chirping loudly overhead? Hobby!

I like that activities have almost no barrier to entry. It’s daunting to begin a hobby — the time, skill, or effort involved can be enough to stop you before you even buy that calligraphy set. A hobby is something you craft and pursue and, if you’re lucky, perfect over time. It’s often insular, something you could parlay into a side hustle (though you don’t have to). And unless you know something I don’t (and if you do, please @ me), you can’t really make a side hustle out of planning trips to the botanical gardens with friends.

But activities! God, I love them. If Doing Things is a personality trait, then I have it. It’s probably because I live in New York, concrete jungle wet dream tomato AND home of so. many. ‘tivities. You can just pick up and do almost any activity whenever you want to do it, and a lot of them cost zero money. That’s not to say you can’t try refining them the way you would a hobby, but you don’t have to to get enjoyment out of them. They’re no-maintenance and low-stress. So much of life is about staying on brand or doing things with purpose, but activities exist just for sheer enjoyment, whatever that means for you. Love being outside? There’s an activity for that! Can’t get enough of shoveling foodstuffs into your piehole? You can make an activity out of that, too! Activities are so easy to collect and return to again and again, which is a big reason why I’ll always prefer them over hobbies.

Here are some of my personal faves, ones that even a committed extrovert like me doesn’t mind doing alone:

  • Trying new restaurants (and then providing copious suggestions when people ask for recommendations).

    I’ve started logging all of my restaurant visits into a Google spreadsheet, so you could argue that I’m hobb-ifying this activity.

  • Going to Broadway shows.

    Once I realized you don’t have to pay $100+ to enjoy arguably the best activity New York City has to offer, I started going to a lot more shows. I use TodayTix, Stubhub, TDF, and the IRL TKTS booth. And when I do decide to pay full price, I go to the box office in person to avoid those $14 “convenience” fees.

  • Visiting museums.

    Thanks to the NYC ID, I can get into a lot of museums and cultural institutions for free. But I’d willingly spend weekday afternoons at museums even if I had to pay full price. A few of my faves: The Met, the Transit Museum, the Natural History Museum, the New-York Historical Society, the Museum of the City of New York, the Guggenheim, the Cooper Hewitt. I need to go the Frick. I have lots of time to do it now!

  • Attending live podcast recordings.

    I’m a maje podcast junkie, and luckily, a lot of them sometimes set up shop at venues like The Bell House, Caveat, and Union Hall to do it live. I’ve seen Who? Weekly, WTF with Marc Maron, Ask Me Another (I was a contestant on that one, too), Why Your Train is F*cked, and several more in person.

  • Playing bar trivia.

    I’m a big ‘ole nerd, which is why this is probably my fave ‘tivity. I try to play every week at Gael Pub on the Upper East Side (where I used to host), and even when we don’t win, I love ~ learning new things ~. It sounds cheesy, but this activity has taught me so much about playing with a team and meeting new people! Win win!

  • Reading, especially non-fiction books.

    Again, I’m a well-established nerd, so it’s no surprise that I love hunkering down with a good biography of Theodore Roosevelt. It’s not a revolutionary activity, but it is a good way to pack some new tidbits into my spaghetti brain and then regurgitate them to anyone within a 10-foot radius.

  • Doing jigsaw puzzles.

    Some people are intimidated by puzzles and would probably place them squarely into the “hobbies” category, but I disagree! They’re an activity for me, one best done while watching Catastrophe or Instant Hotel in the background. If you’re freaked out at the prospect of a 1,000-piecer, try a 250 and tell me it wasn’t fun, low-key, and something you want to do over and over again for no reason other than sheer enjoyment.

  • Hosting (and/or coordinating) group hangouts.

    I’m talking game nights, dinner parties, potlucks, recipe clubs, you name it. I love getting people together with a purpose (I’m as fun as I sound), especially if there’s food involved.

  • Playing board games.

    See above. I recently went to a board game cafe with a friend, and while we failed miserably at learning a new game and instead played Guess Who? and Candyland, it was still a ton of fun and a reminder of how great board games are. Some of my favorites are Codenames and Ticket to Ride, and I’m eager to learn backgammon, Settlers of Catan, and Mahjong.

  • Watching documentaries.
    I’m not a huge movie or TV person, but if there’s a good documentary, I’ll eat it up (and then proselytize about it to everyone I know). Some good ones I’ve seen: Seeing Allred, 20 Feet from Stardom, Three Identical Strangers, Icarus, Going Clear.

  • Just strollin’.
    A big advantage of living in New York (and suddenly having lots of free time) is being able to walk outside and see where your feet take you. Even though we’re currently in the midst of a fool’s spring, I’ll still pick a destination or neighborhood or errand, and just stroll around at a leisurely pace to get there. It’s a perfect way to listen to a podcast, catch up with someone on the phone, or just take out the earbuds and take in your surroundings. It’s not exactly nature, but it’s as close as New York gets, so I’ll take it. ✨

Terri Pous is a writer, editor, two-day Jeopardy! champ, and an Aries. She loves abbrevs, reality TV, obscure facts about the US presidents, and the 🥴 emoji. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @terripous, and on sidewalks @ petting every dog.

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Toward a more perfect home screen

When I saw this photo from Courtney Carver / Be More With Less pop up in my Instagram feed last August, I was...lightly shocked?! To be honest, I didn’t even know what I was looking at at first; my eyes needed time to adjust. After staring at it for a few seconds, I realized it was an iPhone with a home screen that had been entirely cleared of apps. I guess I could have reasoned that one could do this, if one wanted to, but I’d genuinely never seen anything like it.


This is what Courtney wrote in the photo’s caption about her setup:


“No apps on the home screen or placed in neatly labeled containers. Nope. All apps are in one folder (see lower right of my screen). I open my apps (when I want to) by swiping right and typing the app name in the search bar. That way I'm not tempted because I see an app icon.”


(BTW, the caption has several other tips for practicing good digital hygiene and is worth reading in full!)


When I saw the photo, I had already buried Facebook and Twitter deep enough in my phone that I essentially forgot about them / stopped using them, but this photo made me consider whether there were any other apps that needed to go. There was: Instagram. I was finding myself reaching for it more and more last year for a couple reasons. First, because it was there. But also because I’d turned on notifications after several years of not having them. I did it because I was getting tagged in more Stories, particularly from people who were posting about my book, and if I didn’t open the app for 24 hours, I wouldn’t see the story they had tagged me in or be able to reply/thank them. The problem was that I was now getting notifications about all my DMs, many of which weren’t that important but were still super distracting. (I am the kind of person who can’t stand having a notification badge!)

All that to say: seeing this photo on Instagram gave me the push I needed to move Instagram off my home screen and bury it in a folder so it was a couple swipes away. (I replaced it on my home screen with Headspace.) I didn’t turn off IG notifications but I didn’t need to; the effect was immediate and dramatic. Turns out, when the red notification badge isn’t on my home screen, it doesn’t bother me nearly as much. I really like Instagram (the main feed anyway) so I was genuinely shocked by how little I thought about or cared about it when it wasn’t just there.  

After moving the Instagram app, I also cleaned up my home screen a little bit. I figured I wasn’t going to achieve home screen minimalism overnight, but I could start moving in that direction. So I deleted/buried more apps and made two rows of additional space on my home screen. Here’s how it currently looks:

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(If I swipe right, the screen has just two rows of icons: five folders with apps + three standalone apps.)

It’s not totally minimalist, but I feel good about where things are / my relationship with my phone at the moment!

Some related things:

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So, you should really be using a rinse aid in your dishwasher

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Last summer, I was on Wirecutter, looking for their recommendation on the best dish soap. (It’s Seventh Generation BTW.) And somehow or another, I landed on an article they had written about rinse aid. I had never given rinse aid much thought; I didn’t know what it purported to do, but I assumed it was kind of a scam. I...could not have been more wrong.

Here’s Wirecutter (emphasis mine):

“As much as we might like to believe the claim, rinse aid isn’t just a money grab for detergent companies.

You need rinse aid because dishwasher detergents don’t work the same as they used to. If you’ve read our guide to the best dishwashers, you know that in 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators made detergent companies stop using phosphates, a great cleaning agent, because they can lead to algal bloom.

Says Liam McCabe in our dishwasher guide:

‘Every new dishwasher has a rinse-aid dispenser because rinse aid is essentially mandatory if you want your dishwasher to work well these days, according to every industry person we talked to. Rinse aid offsets the limitations resulting from gentler detergents and stricter efficiency standards—it’s just part of the deal now.’”

Ex...fucking...scuse me????

And THEN I saw this sentence: “if your dishes are coming out of the dishwasher wet, or with food bits still stuck to them, give rinse aid a whirl.”

My dishes were coming out of the dishwasher SO wet AND with food bits stuck to them!!!!! (Truly: so wet, it was kind of ridiculous. After running the dishwasher — which includes a long heated drying cycle! — I’d still need to leave them in the dishwasher all day to dry before putting them in the cabinets.)

I immediately ordered rinse aid — I bought Seventh Generation, because that’s what was cheapest on Amazon Fresh — and it’s made a world of difference. I’m slightly annoyed that I didn’t know about this sooner! But if you’re experiencing something similar, it might be worth trying rinse aid and seeing if it helps.

Get an 8-ounce bottle of Seventh Generation Rinse Aid from Amazon Prime for $8.92 or Amazon Fresh for $5.99. 💦

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