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A Home in Progress and Where I'm Finding Comfort This Week

Plus a few thoughts before 'The Bachelor' finale...
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At this point, the majority of our house can be represented by the picture above—nearly finished rooms, either in the process of being painted or partially filled with furniture. I've learned that making your own home improvements feels like barely controlled chaos, but it's also been so rewarding to look back at our progress at the end of every week: In the past few days, we painted our bedroom emerald green (after starting with one wall, we went for the entire room), put some finishing touches on my office, and finally found a living room arrangement we love after some trial and error. I'm loving every second of it, but it's still probably no coincidence that I've sought out easy comforts in other areas of my life, cooking food I grew up eating and reading a book I knew I'd love. Here are some things I loved this week—as well as some food for thought, before you watch "The Bachelor" finale tonight:

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Over the past four years of writing "The List," I've often felt pressure to read and watch only new things, worthy of reviewing and sharing with you. For every book I recommend here, I've often read two that aren't worth sharing, which is why it can feel oddly comforting anytime I slow down to read something I know I'll enjoy, and that isn't new or cool by any standard. For the past week, I've been on a major Kristin Hannah kick—a tried-and-true queen of her craft. I went into reading The Nightingale and watching "Firefly Lane" knowing I'd love them, from ample recommendations by friends and coworkers. There can be so much pressure to stay "up to date" on the latest [insert show/book/movie], but I hope this serves as your reminder to revisit the major pop culture favorites you've missed along the way. Also on my (random) list, What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and "Riverdale."

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I know we're all a bit weary of pandemic content right now, but 'Little Fish' is a far cry from 'Contagion,' and a bit more 'Eternal Sunshine.' In it, people across the world have been impacted by a mysterious ailment that causes memory loss—victims remember their feelings, just not how or why they have them. The story centers on a couple portrayed by Olivia Cooke and Jack O’Connell, as his memory of their relationship and love story fades. It's a bit cheesy, but the combination of sci-fi and romance is the exact escapism I needed this week.

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"Okra and Sausage," as it's always been called in my family, is the first and only dish I can remember refusing to eat. As a kid, I'd push aside the okra-tomato mixture, simmered in red wine, for the more appealing kielbasa it's served with. As an adult, it's the dish I make anytime I miss home. Though it likely originated from Southern or Indian cooking, I cook from the recipe my mom dictated from memory to me over the phone. Usually when I try to recreate meals from home—my mom's penne with sun-dried tomatoes or brown sugar-seared Brussels sprouts, my dad's pancakes—they taste only tangentially like the original. But Okra and Sausage is so foolproof and simple that it always tastes how I remember it: the tannins from the red wine and tomatoes' acidity cut through the slime of the okra to reveal its grassy flavor, balanced by the rich fattiness of the sausage. It isn't a pretty dish (which my picture above should make obvious), but it's so comforting. You don't have to have grown up eating it to feel immediately warmed by Okra and Sausage

4

If this week in pop culture has taught us anything, it's that WOC have to follow an entirely different set of unachievable expectations of perfection when placed under the limelight. In a recent episode of her podcast "Higher Learning," Rachel Lindsay, the first Black Bachelorette (after 13 seasons), draws a connection between herself and Meghan Markle's interview with Oprah, "When Oprah asked, 'Do you have any regrets?' and Harry said, 'No,' and she said, yes, that she trusted the royal family to protect her... and maybe I'm thinking of my own story and Bachelor Nation, but the more things change, the more they stay the same." 

Over the past few weeks, Rachel Lindsay has been vocal about the ways in which "The Bachelor" has failed BIPOC, despite their new commitment to representation, from Chris Harrison imploring Lindsay to treat contestant Rachael Kirkconnell with "grace" following the discovery of racist photos, to calling out issues with screen time representation and the perpetuation of Black stereotypes (and has been attacked in comment sections for doing so). Whether you love or love to hate "The Bachelor," tonight's season finale is an important cultural moment, and it's important to watch it within the context of the series' failures. Rachel Lindsay doesn't have to teach us about "The Bachelor"'s insensitivities or problems, but she has taken on that enormous burden. Before watching "The Bachelor" tonight, I highly recommend catching up on Rachel Lindsay and Becca Kufrin's "Bachelor Happy Hour" podcast, listening to this episode of "Higher Learning," and following Rachel Lindsay@theblckchelorettes, and @bachelordata on Instagram, then sign this petition for increasing BIPOC representation on the series and read this morning's Anti-Racism Daily for more on reality TV's racism. And, if you feel defensive reading this or have been moved to take down Rachel Lindsay, maybe ask yourself why. 

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1. An oral history of "The Thong Song."

2. I've literally been interviewed on how badly onions hurt my eyes—but this tip is new to me!

3. If nothing else, watch this trailer for Ray Romano's deadpan recitation of "Crazy in Love."

4. Smart recipe ideas for ripe bananas.

5. This movie on childhood and play looks interesting!

6. Homegirl is a new Portland-based magazine that centers stories around Black women and femme people.

7. Nope, nope, nope. (Not for me.)

8. There may be nothing Emily and I love more than a secret passageway in a building—and this video delivered on all of those dreams. 

9. A new Jensen McRae song! (First recommended her here.)

10. Feeling extremely proud of our old favorite Courage Bagels right now. 

11. If you didn't hear, Lulu and Georgia's Friends & Family sale is starting today with 25% off! (I just bought this mirror, and will be ready to share photos as soon as it arrives, since it's the final touch.)

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