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My Favorite Book of the Year (So Far!) and a Reminder as You Head Outside

Plus, the new addition to our fam!
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Just waiting for a rug and record player—but she's coming together! 

Just waiting for a rug and record player—but she's coming together! 

When Jonah and I were making our plans to move to Portland, I said "Day one, we move in. Day two, we get a dog," enough times for it to become a running joke. Except that it totally wasn't—which Jonah realized as soon as I began researching pet adoption on not even our first full day in Oregon. After spending the past few weeks researching, FaceTiming, and applying for dogs, we found ours in a total whirlwind. After finding his profile on Petfinder last Thursday through an adoption agency in Texas (side note: there's a shortage of dogs who need to be adopted in the PNW, which is amazing if an additional challenge for prospective owners), Jonah and I FaceTimed the agency and foster parents to make sure we were a good fit for each other (and for our cat Meesh). 

On Saturday morning, he arrived via a safe transport! Needless to say, we are in love (if totally in over out heads!), and I am deep into the puppy research and training—all of which I'm happy to compile into a post, if there's an interest! Follow me on Instagram for all of the puppy spam, and comment with your tips! In the meantime, here are a few things I loved from this week:

1

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam had been on my radar for a while, but it wasn't until Kelly Slacked me in all caps (!) about it that I finally cracked it open—and proceeded to devour it. A little more about it: A couple from Brooklyn splurges on a beautiful vacation home in Long Island. They've hardly settled in before the homeowners they're renting from arrive in the middle of the night, interrupting their bliss to tell them a blackout hit New York. The questions of whether to believe the couple, how much to panic (is it a simple, temporary blackout or World War III?), race (the homeowners are black, while the renters are white), and how to cohabitate during a catastrophe are central to this building, un-put-downable thriller. I loved every single page, including observations that felt eerily similar to thoughts I've had during quarantine, missing the simplest everyday activities:

"A staycation. The movies. Go to the Met. Dinner at a sit-down Chinese restaurant, with those silver pots of tea and orange slices when they bring the bill." The life they had was perfect.

Don't be surprised if it ends up on both Kelly and my "Best Books of 2020" list next month!

2

In Save Yourselves!, a comedy now rentable on iTunes, a hipster Brooklyn couple agrees to a week-long, complete tech detox as they do their best to commune with nature in a cabin up north ("I've been wanting to YouTube how to make a trap to catch a rabbit so bad," the boyfriend, played by John Paul Reynolds, laments at one point). Unbeknownst to them, extremely violent, super-cute aliens have taken over the world at the exact moment they've been living off the grid. A huge component of what made this movie so hilarious to me (and why it may not be as funny to you!) is how much Jonah and I saw our least-flattering attributes in the characters. In one scene, the girlfriend (played by Sunita Mani) relays a quick survival action plan to her boyfriend. He repeats it back, to which she says, in the middle of an alien invasion, "Are you listening or are you repeating?" I'm pretty sure Jonah and I both peed ourselves laughing at that point—it was just exactly what we would do, if faced with the same situation. (Also, apparently apocalypse was my vibe this week, given my book and movie choice!)

3

Every Black Friday, Jonah and I make a point of joining the #optoutside movement to head out on a long hike. I'm not saying I don't participate in my fair share of online sales this week (we'll be rounding up a few of the best ones later today!), but being outside and in nature always feels like the perfect companion to a day full of good food and gratitude. In years past, I'd thought of nature as this amazing equalizer that everyone has access to—but I've become increasingly aware of just how wrong I was. Nature is accessible, but far more so if you're wealthy and white. Ever since watching this video on "Running While Black," I've understood that being unafraid while hiking, camping, and running is absolutely a function of white privilege and covert racism (if you're in doubt of this, compare the number of BIPOC versus white people you see on your next hike). As a white ally, here are a few things you can do to combat inequality outdoors and #diversifyoutdoors:

1. Vote with your dollar—Purchase gear from BIPOC-owned outdoor brands (Natives Outdoors is selling a print that benefits COVID relief efforts!). According to this article, which illuminates just how vast the disparity is, "there are two Black-owned outdoor gear companies and two Black-owned outdoor retail shops in the entire country.")
2. Take a closer look at your Instagram feed. Follow, support, and share posts from BIPOC organizations and people like @officialblackgirlsrun, @blackpeoplewhohike, @browngirlsclimb@switchbackshawty, @naturechola@badgal_brooky, @korialexis, @lassosafroworld, @lexxgetlost, and @melaninbasecamp (their guide to outdoor allyship is fantastic, by the way). Here's a great list of people to follow, organized by outdoor sport!
3. Educate yourself. Read this issue of Anti-Racism Daily, spend twenty minutes listening to this episode of Code Switch, and watch Alex Bailey's TED Talk. The Trek also has an incredible resource guide here!
4. Speak up. If you see hostility on a trail or if you have friends or family who speak disparagingly about Black or Brown hikers, call them out on it. Reach out to brands who feature images of primarily white hikers, and ask them to amplify BIPOC voices.

4

Our entire team is obsessed with The Undoing, the HBO Max miniseries starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. We recently spent an hour trading theories about who committed the murder that takes place in the first episode (keep in mind that I'm writing this before I've seen Sunday's episode!). Though the trailer reveals that Hugh Grant is arrested for it, the reasons behind the murder, dynamics of a wealthy group of New York moms, and ever-revealed secrets of the marriage make it edge-of-your-seat good and on par with another fantastic HBO miniseries whodunnit, The Night Of

5

When Jonah and I were first planning our 16-hour drive to Portland from LA, we took a casual poll of favorite podcasts from friends—and "Smartless" won by a landslide. The concept of this new(ish) show, hosted by Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett is simple: One of the hosts brings on a guest that's a surprise to the other two. The episodes are so funny and quick (it's clear how close the three are) that we made it through nearly every one on our drive. Favorite episodes include Stacey Abrams, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Neil deGrasse Tyson

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1. Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris' podcast "Still Processing" is back! (Wesley was also interviewed in this piece for New York Magazine on the New York Times' recent "reckoning with itself.")

2. Cupcakes and cashmere readers just launched this amazing app, Posy, for supporting women's fertility journeys!

3. Looking forward to this upcoming show

4. Consider this my amendment to last week's post—this turkey by Samin Nosrat looks excellent. (This cocktail also looks delightful for Thanksgiving.)

5. If you're in Georgia, have you registered to vote for the runoff elections? December 7 is the Georgia Voter Registration deadline!

6. Kicking myself for missing the Isabel Wilkerson event through Aspen Words (I'm currently listening to the audiobook of Caste), but just signed up for an event with Curtis Sittenfeld of Rodham next month. You can register here—yay books! 

Until next Monday, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving! 

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