Good Stuff! In Spite of it All, Dammit.

Listen to me, people: I AM NOT A HIPPIE. I am not a woo-woo, New Age woman who runs with the wolves. I do not burn sage, I do not make offerings, I do not manifest things with the power of my mind. I am far, far too smart and logical and rational for that. Please. I am not someone who hides patchouli-scented, "spiritual" self-help books in her closet so that visitors don't see them on her downstairs bookshelves. PLEASE.

Except that I totally am. (And cue my Smartner rolling over in his grave because I wrote this on the Internet, even though he's not dead. What's the living version of that? Spinning suddenly in his office chair? Fine. That's what he just did.)

Or this. Maybe he just did this. (Image Source)

But, oh, God[dess], I am! I absolutely am! And, fellow goofy hippie-types, this Mercury retrograde has been a fucking BITCH, am I right? It's been a rough go, especially after the high of all of my New Year's efficacy, but there's nothing to do but wait it out until the 26th. So, I'm practicing being patient and treading carefully through tense moments, none of which comes easily to me. I'm working on shaking off miscommunications and blaming them on a distant planet, which at least grants space for forgiveness even if it is a goofy theory. I'm trying to remember that others' problems are just that - others' problems and not mine - while bringing in my outfield to play closer to home. I'm trying to focus on The Good Stuff in order to not feel it so deeply when the periphery starts to fall apart and take the center down with it.

And with all that, I'm just baaaaaaaaaaaarely avoiding this at least once a day:

Maybe you are in this boat - this shitty, shitty boat, perhaps even up on the poop deck - too. And maybe you call it Blue Monday, or maybe you just call it the post-holiday blues, but here. Here is Good Stuff to cheer us up together. Cheers.

1. Home

(Image Source)

I didn't know that this movie existed until my kids came home from a Parents' Night Out talking about it. Did you guys know about this? Have you all seen this before, and I'm coming late to the party?Doesn't matter. Don't care. I'm going to write about it anyway.

Basic Plot: An alien species called the Boov (a word which, delightfully, both sounds like a euphemism for something sexual AND an obscene pejorative) colonizes Earth and sends all humans - except one, a 7th grade girl named Tip (Rihanna!)- off to a reservation to free up the good stuff for themselves. (Wheee! Colonialism for children! NOW you can explain why Columbus Day is such a bad idea in terms that children can understand!) Tip and O (Jim Parsons!), a fugitive Boov (See how gross that sounds?) must work together to save Earth from another invading species and also find Tip's mother (JLo!). Unlikely friendships are made, intergalactic misunderstandings are cleared up, and colonists and colonized alike live happily ever after in mutual understanding and peace. Just like in real life.

Why It's Good: It's funny, charming, adorable, blah blah blah. AND I'm being absolutely serious about the colonialist teaching tool. In the same way that Inside Out is a great device for explaining complicated emotions, Home is wonderful for explaining imperialism. Seriously. Howard Zinn would approve. It's also about a scrappy young Barbadian girl who, in spite of her entire planet being taken over by aliens, is absolutely the mistress of her own fate. Tip is all agency all the time, and she's a delightfully written and voiced character. Add to this the remarkable facts that Tip's mom is a single mother (without the movie being about her single motherhood!) and that Tip has lusciously animated, natural, curly hair (without the movie being about her hair), and the movie is already ahead of its rivals in its depiction of diverse characters and family structures.

Home also contains this, what must be the most radical line in all of children's animation, which Tip's mother says when describing her daughter as she searches for Tip in Happy Humans Town, the earthling reservation:

"She has big green eyes and beautiful brown skin."

When I heard that line while watching the movie with The Daughters, I actually gasped. Because it's revolutionary enough that the protagonist of the movie is 1) a girl, and 2) Black, but to have her brown skin explicitly described as beautiful was just such a glorious affirmation of all that decades of mainstream entertainment has denied: that brown is beautiful.

Damn straight. (Image Source)

2. Wit and Wisdom "Ab-solution" Itty Bitty Bootcut Jeans

I am a comfort junkie. This concept is often associated with laziness, which I resent. I'm a hard worker, but I don't like to feel discomfort that distracts me from my hard work at hand. So, I bust my ass, but I do it in sweatshirts and sensible shoes. Regardless of my need for comfort, I don't like to wear yoga pants all day long because then I feel like I'm falling into a rabbit hole of apathy and self-abnegation. So, thank the comfy fashion gods above for these babies:

(Image Source)

These are the most comfortable jeans I've ever worn. They're soft, they're stretchy, they don't dig in anywhere - ANYWHERE - and yet they still look like proper jeans. They are the perfect cheater denim. No one can tell that what you're really wearing is the comfort equivalent of a nice ponte knit with all the softness of leggings, which is what I've been dreaming of my entire life. And the Itty Bitty Bootcut is a great break from the ubiquity of skinny jeans without going overboard into full flare territory (Why is this such a hard line to walk, fashion people? Why?).

Two warnings before you buy: 1) Size down. They stretch like crazy, which is what makes them comfy. Plan appropriately. 2) These are not your Forever Jeans. The denim is thinner thanks to the decreased amount of cotton and increased amount of stretchy poly-business. I've been rotating between a couple of pairs of these since fall, and I'm about to bust some holes in the thighs. Usually this would be a deal-breaker for me since I hate shopping and generally want things to last forever so that I can avoid having to re-buy them. But these are worth it. I'm a happier lady when I'm a comfy lady, and so these jeans actually make me a better person.

Did you hear that? It's not hyperbole. I'm far more likely to get down on the floor and play with my kids or to run around the playground with them if I don't feel restricted by a tyrannical denim exoskeleton. Let me be the first to announce proudly that Wit and Wisdom "Ab-solution" Jeans make me a better mother. And if that doesn't score me a free pair from the company, I don't know what will.

3. Arcane Comics

(Image Source)

When my older Smartling expressed an interest in "girl superheroes" earlier this winter, I knew that the time had come to take her comic book shopping. I am not a huge comics geek, but I did manage to borrow Danica's copy of Twisted Sisters: A Collection of Bad Girl Art for over 10 years, and I love a good, juicy graphic novel. So, while I don't know my comics all that well, I fully support my daughter's interest in superheroines and was happy to take her to Arcane Comics, our local comic book store.

We walked in, all 3 Larsen Ladies, and I asked the 20-something man behind the counter (Why didn't I get his name?) where the feminist, age-appropriate female superhero comics are. And, people, did I get an education. I don't know what I was expecting - pushback? dismissal? indifference? - but what I got was a guided tour all over the store of the full gamut of comics with female protagonists. I walked out with a huge stack of comics for Livy AND for me, all of which were vetted by the knowledgeable bookseller who helped us, and a lot of which were free (?!?!). It was a fantastic experience, and I highly recommend Arcane to anyone in the Seattle area who wants to shop in person and to anyone in the world who wants to shop online.

4. A Story of a Fuck-off Fund

All RiRi all the time. But, seriously, she had the financial capacity to peace the fuck out after Chris Brown assaulted her.

Shouldn't everyone have that freedom? (Image Source)

I've already told you all about my own early 20's financial misadventures and how lucky I was that things turned out for the better. Here is a fantastic piece about the importance of playing financial self-defense and practicing financial self-care. The piece is rich with unacknowledged privilege in that its "everywoman" is a recent college graduate who is able to find a job prestigious and well-paid enough to make her life look like "a stock photo tagged 'young professionals.'" In spite of its upwardly-mobile, well-educated, employed speaker, the piece tells a story that's universal, because we all need money with which to protect ourselves from unforseen disasters, including bad relationships and bad jobs. Perhaps the story is even more powerful because of the speaker's advantages; if even those of us with steady, white-collar jobs and college educations need a fuck-off fund, then, shoot, doesn't EVERYONE? So, although the piece is complicated by the many privileges the speaker enjoys, it would be a shame not to share it based on who it includes (upwardly mobile college grads) and who it leaves out (everyone else).

Repeat after me: Financial freedom is FREEDOM. An escape route is FREEDOM. A viable plan B is FREEDOM. This is not a romantic or pleasant idea... until you need it. And then it's goddamn beautiful.

5. Bourbon and Girl Scout Cookie Pairings


This year will be the first that I've helped my older Smartling sell Girl Scout cookies, and I'm likely going to need some bourbon to get through the process. Why not combine the two, and why don't you join me?

(Image Source)

Cheers, Smarties! Here's to the Good Stuff!