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How We're Spending Our Last Full Day in L.A. and a Podcast for Early Mornings

Plus a truly terrifying documentary.
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From our taco crawl last week!

From our taco crawl last week!

Tomorrow is officially moving day, and it feels nearly impossible to put into words all of the emotions I'm feeling. We're so, so excited but right now is definitely the sad part. All of our things are packed up and I'm anxious about the literal road ahead! The plan is to spend the evening tonight in our apartment, on an air mattress, and then tomorrow we'll drive with my brother to my parent's house in Reno, as we did in July but with Meesh and a much fuller trunk this time! (While we hired movers to take the majority of our things, we're fitting what we can in the car.) Reno is almost exactly halfway—eight hours from Los Angeles and eight hours to Portland—so it worked out perfectly.

Our lease in Portland begins November 1, so we'll spend the week with my parents, then drive up to Portland on Halloween, spend the night in a pet-friendly hotel, and pick up our keys on Sunday morning. Moving is always chaotic but obviously things are amplified by COVID, so we're planning on pausing for a beat this afternoon before we head out. Depending on when the movers are done, Jonah and I are planning on driving to Malibu to sit on the coast and take a quiet moment to ourselves, to say goodbye to California. Here's what I loved this week, in the quick pauses between packing: 

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I voted early and by mail last week (as I know many of you have, too)—but there's still a lot of work to be done ahead of the election, which is just eight days away. This is the final sprint, so don't get discouraged from calling voters, making sure your vote gets counted (nearly every state has a site where you can get SMS updates about your ballot), and doing your research! 

Last week, Jonah and I hosted a "Ballot Party" to go over every candidate and state measure for California (over Zoom this year) and found it incredibly helpful to go over them one-by-one. Each friend presented on a different race or proposition, followed by a discussion. There were several propositions, like State Measure 25, that began as a clear "yes," but only emerged as a "no" (for me) after we discussed it and took time to carefully parse out the pros and cons. I know I probably don't need to write this, but just in case: Don't just read the description on the ballot. There are some things like Prop 22 that sound really good at first glance, but have some seriously scary implications when you dig a little deeper

When it comes to the president, I was proud to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I support Biden's plan to curtail carbon emissions, put measures into action that protect people from the coronavirus, make healthcare and education more accessible, and eliminate private prisons, among so many others.

Long story short: Vote and get your friends and family to vote. If you are not yet registered to vote, still go to a poll—you can receive a provisional ballot the day-of in many states. There is really no valid excuse for not voting. It's a right we have, so go get 👏 out 👏 the 👏 vote!

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Okay, let's unwind from election talk! It's important, but so is balance. For the past few weeks, I've been waking up earlier than usual, closer to 5 than 6, and have made a concerted effort not to jump straight into packing. At a friend's recommendation, I began listening to "Poetry Unbound." It's similar to another favorite, Tracy K. Smith's "The Slow Down," in which the host, poet Pádraig Ó Tuama, reads a poem once, then talks through it, and reads it again. I've been amazed by how much more impactful the poem is on the second read-through (this recent episode is a favorite), and at around ten minutes per episode, it's just long enough to feel sated but not anxious before I start my morning.

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So many of you have DMed me recommending that I watch The Social Dilemma—and with good reason. The documentary interviews huge players in the tech industry (primarily white men, unsurprisingly), from the co-inventor of the "like" button to the former Director of Product at Twitter, about the primary problem with social media and tech: Everything is built to keep us engaged in content, with little consideration for how healthy those updates are for us.

The film does an amazing job of illustrating concepts I thought I understood. I knew that Instagram has an algorithm to keep me scrolling, but didn't realize that the next post I'm served is calculated by every minute detail of my interactions—how many milliseconds I spent on the previous post, if I saved it, if I zoomed in on it, if I clicked to see the tags. 

Beyond creating a global dependance on screens (it's no coincidence that drug and tech terminology overlaps), many of these features are responsible for the deep division in the United States and world right now. For example, as the trailer points out, if you Google "The climate crisis," it may autofill based on your search history to "is a hoax" or something else entirely. Let's test it! Here are the results I got—are yours the same or different?

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The spread of misinformation for the financial gain of large tech companies was, to me, one of the sadder parts of the documentary and highlighted just how important critical thinking is. I hope you're all able to watch it!

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Rotten Tomatoes is a review aggregator but far from inclusionary. According to this Variety piece, last year, white critics wrote 82 percent of the reviews of the 100 top-grossing films, and 20 percent were written by women—which may be why their lists of "top films" aren't your top films. A comment in my post from a few weeks ago turned me on to the site The Cherrypicks, which provides Rotten Tomatoes-inspired scoring, but all based on reviews written by women and non-binary critics. Even a quick scroll through their "Run Don't Walk" and "Worth the Ticket" movies gave me a ton of recommendations (I'm sure you'll see a few on The List in the coming weeks!). 

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1. "Busy day" outfits, for when we're all out and about again—had fun looking through them and reminiscing about clothes that aren't stretchy...

2. This wildlife photography is incredible. 

3. Does eye cream really work?

4. The organization @lovekindcure we partnered with earlier this year is doing a read-along of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye from November 1 through 7. They'll be announcing more on their Instagram but I wanted to give a heads up to anyone who wants to buy the book ahead of time, like I did!

5. I need to read Hillbilly Elegy before this movie comes out!

5. Míriam, a cupcakes and cashmere reader, recently shared a resource her company created "to help individuals have conversations about different aspects of the election and American democracy in a non-polarizing way." It includes resources I personally found helpful for talking to people you don't agree with.

6. This documentary on an Egyptian tomb comes out this week and looks so interesting. 

7. This tweet made me laugh!

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