letter seven

Dear friends,

January is a cold, dreary time, and I love it as a time to slow down, reset, and be productive. Between the millennial burnout thinkpieces and the KonMari phenomenon, it feels like many of us both feel overwhelmed + are holding pieces of our lives up to the light and asking, does this spark joy? What is joy, anyway? For a number of women I read the last few weeks, these questions seem to center, sometimes, on cooking: who do we do it for? what shall we make? when is food created for sustenance, or for community? why cook at all?

This past weekend, we traveled for a wedding and then unexpectedly embarking on a day-long road trip from Indy to Boston (hellooooo snowy winter weather). Since then, I've been feeling worn out, spending a lot of time puttering from kitchen to living room, alternating simple cooking tasks (this no-knead crusty bread and this rather bland "wacky" or depression-era coconut cake) with brief stints on my computer. Here are some of the things I've done + read:

what I've been up to
I submitted my oral exam materials to my committee! This included a draft of a publishable paper + a field statement. The paper(s) were fairly straightforward---they're on their way to being actually published, yay! The field statement was more challenging for me---even though in some ways it's "just" a lit review of things I care about, in other ways it's an existential crisis in the making. What do I care about? Ultimately, I was happy with where I landed with the draft; it's imperfect, yes, but it's reflective of my current thinking, which is also a work-in-progress. It makes me nervous to say it, but if you're interested in reading it + talking about it, hit reply and I'll send it.

what I'm reading: books
"Attractive things do work better---their attractiveness produces positive emotions, causing mental processes to be more creative, more tolerant of minor difficulties." --Don Norman, Emotional Design, p.60

I swear I saw this. Drawing as ethnography. Emotional design. Our Declaration.

what I'm reading: papers and articles
Racialized learning pathways. Space and place. The myth of teachers giving up power. Even geniuses work hard. Revisiting student resistance. Ethnography as graphic art. Visual ethnography. Decolonizing lit mags. Millennial burnout. Reflections on writing about burnout. Burnout while black. On cooking as a way to make ourselves indispensable. January as a season of cooking and puttering. Chicken stock. How to take awesome food photos, via a beautiful Google slide deck (hint: circles). Roxane Gay's hilarious and insightful one sentence book reviews. Spotify and the rise of "chill" muzak everywhere. What it's like to be an Internet advice columnist.

my favorite youtube video this week (click the image)

let us all aspire to this level of joy

Thx for reading + send me your favorite songs--I'm putting together a partner yoga workshop this week!
-Paulina