Holiday Card, 2015

Happy Holidays, friends and lovers! How I’ve missed you. I hope the ups of your 2015 outpaced the downs, and that you didn’t have too many unbearable hangovers. 

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Merry Christmas from this girl, whose sweater is equal parts comfortable and insane.

Let’s catch up. As my (belated) Festivus gift to you I present: a letter full of hot recs!

PODCASTS

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If I had to distill the most important thing I took from 2015, it was Self Care. My life hashtag has been #notimeforscrubs for quite a while now, but I’ve expanded it to include more than just idiots from my dating life, past and future. #notimeforscrubs means no time for toxic friendships, negative self-talk, or events for pure obligation’s sake. It means more time for yoga, chiropractic appointments, and face masks. I started therapy this year, and I tried ear acupuncture. My 2016 resolution is to floss. I’m really trying to get it together. A huge influence for me in this realm has been the Buzzfeed podcast Another Round. Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu make a point to discuss the practicalities of taking care of yourself, and they ask each of their guests (including Hillary GD Clinton!) how they take care of themselves, too. Just as important, they are hilarious, and I wish they were my real-life friends.

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I don’t usually recommend people go back to the beginning of a podcast, unless they’re a freak completist like me. It’s overwhelming and time-consuming. But the best thing about Hello from the Magic Tavern is the fully formed fantasy world Arnie Niekamp, Matt Young, and Adal Rifai are building, and it’s worth it to get in on the ground floor. The backstory: Niekamp is a human who fell through a portal in Chicago to the magical land of Foon. He’s joined every episode by pals Usidore the Wizard (Young) and Chunt the shapeshifting badger (Rifai), and they have a roundtable chat with a local colorful character. Think Dungeons and Dragons meets Professor Blastoff (RIP). The most impressive feat the show pulls off is the continuity between episodes. Even one-off guests readily reference rules of the universe established in previous weeks. Usually fictional podcasts are not my bag, but this hits all the right notes of the most fun improv you’ll ever see except in audio form. Full disclosure: As of this posting, Adal coaches my improv team, but he will likely never read this, so NO I’M NOT SUCKING UP.

Elise mentioned Mystery Show in her summer postcard, but I’d like to reiterate how incredible that show is. Start with the “Belt Buckle” or “Source Code” episodes. Really, anything on the Gimlet podcast network is worth your time, if you’re looking for something new. Reply All is unmissable, too. Honestly, I will listen to anything Gimlet puts out; they’re doing good work.

TV

FX had a stellar year, upping the ante on a bunch of their shows. The Americans, You’re the Worst (yeah, yeah, technically FXX), and Fargo all blew their previous seasons out of the water.

I’ve also continued upon my inadvisable rewatch of original 90210. Unless you unapologetically like bad TV, like some people I know, you have better ways to spend your time.

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What is anyone wearing, ever

MOVIES

Well, what about a little indie gem called The Force Awakens? Truthfully, I’d like to just list it here ten times, but that feels lazy. I’ll just say it was the most fun I’ve had at the movies in literal years, and if you’re not a Star Wars person, I still think you’d like it. But I’m a little too close to the material to know for sure. I could seriously watch BB-8 give a thumbs-up on repeat for five hundred years.

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Spotlight is also great. It’s part procedural, part thriller, and covers the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, as brought to light by The Boston Globe. Though it dramatizes true events, it doesn’t add any extraneous nonsense to make the story more big-screen friendly. It’s just a bunch of 2000s journalists in hideous outfits doing their jobs really well. Pro tip: I spent the whole movie thinking Cardinal Law was some sort of catechism, but it is, in fact, a person’s name. So much for 13 years of Catholic school.

Sisters isn’t getting much love, which is sadly fair. But if you like Tina and Amy at all, their chemistry certainly justifies a rental. I will be plagiarizing many of my future sick burns from the script, including: “I respect your jumpsuit, but not its contents.”

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BOOKS

In October, I successfully completed my Goodreads challenge to read forty books this year and felt a powerful sense of accomplishment, because my self-worth is determined by To Do lists. Unsurprisingly, I have significantly slowed down since then. Currently I’m reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It’s sad as fuck, guys. But so beautifully written. Now that I’ve finished my challenge, I am savoring the act of reading, instead of blowing through pages to cross another novel off the list.

MUSIC

My new music consumption is pathetic. As I edit this, I am listening to The Head and the Heart’s 2010 self-titled album, which I have heard approximately eleventy-bajillion times already. Sure, I bought Adele’s new album (and tickets to see her in concert, doi), and I have intensely lip-synced to it around my apartment. I like Leon Bridges’ album a whole lot, but usually when I put on Spotify, I head straight for the “Focus” section because I have work to do. I’ve written many jokes to the energizing instrumentals of the “Productive Morning” playlist. (And not always in the morning, either.)

I guess what I’m asking, dear reader, is what music should I be listening to? What were the albums you couldn’t live without this year? No aggressively dissonant music need apply, but I am otherwise open.

I’m trying to try, though. I even bought a record player this year! And my transformation to completely insufferable is now complete! Unfortunately, I had to replace my turntable within a month, and the new one was also non-functioning, so now I have about 15 records with no way to play them. Take pity on me and my virgin copy of Dolly Parton’s Greatest Hits.

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Thats it! Merry happy, everybody, and see you in 2016!
Alison

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White Noise

I’m overwhelmed. As I sit, thinking about what I really want to write, all I type is nonsense. My brain is a mess—I can’t remember which shows or movies I’ve been watching, or what I’ve read recently that demanded reply.

Things seem unbearably—vast. I can’t focus. There are a combination of factors at play—I moved into a new apartment, which is time-consuming and stressful. Lots of last-minute travel for work and for play. Changing seasons, holidays approaching and so many pumpkin-flavored beers everywhere. All weird and distracting.feelingsRecently, even stray observations of mine seem secondhand and stale. Bar-bound with a buddy last week, I mentioned a girl we know, and was struck by my reluctance to call female friends women. Because of the patriarchy, probably! Or cultural appropriation! Maybe both! The next day, this article appeared—Why It’s Not Sexist To Call Women “Girls”–which was miraculous. But I don’t have much to add—and anyway, Ann Friedman already explored the idea years ago in a New Republic piece about the word “lady.” Why bother?

Last week, I saw Sloane Crosley read selections from her new novel, The Clasp. In the same way that I moved through adolescence alongside Harry Potter—turning 13 the same year that Harry hit puberty in Prisoner of Azkaban—Sloane and I grew up together. I discovered her first book of essays at around the same age that she was when she wrote them.

I read I Was Told There’d Be Cake just out of college. The collection is shot through with the kind of overwhelming confusion and anxiety that propelled me out of my room at 4 a.m. to yell-cry on the couch with Alison while we watched clips from inspirational sports movies.

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Sloane’s second collection, How Did You Get This Number is anchored by a greater sense of self. She and I: still quirky and nervous, but fairly confident that things will turn out fine. A woman at Wednesday’s reading asked Sloane about the final essay in that collection, Off the Back of a Truck—which takes a kind of dramatic left turn into heavy heartbreak, and spoke directly to my soul upon first read. Her story made me sad, and it made me laugh—as does everything, in the decade before you turn 30.

Sloane is smart and funny—and endearingly awkward before large groups. I get chatty and nonsensical when I’m nervous, but Sloane is a charming and demonstrably talented lady. So when she says wacky things, you suspect that they’re also brilliant. I do not have this specific ability. Anyway. I decided to ask her a question—I got up in front of a bunch of strangers (and one very confused friend) to say, essentially: what makes you so special? In a world with so much stuff, where everyone Tweets their feelings and posts every brunch, how do you make the argument that what you write is worth reading?

Sloane’s answer—with a few jokes and some wonderful recommendations for voracious readers like myself—came down to, Don’t write about just anything. Write about something that is bigger than yourself. Oh, sure. I’m so glad we had this talk.

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Do you all care about my big ideas and grand thoughts? Probably not. I don’t even know if I care about what I think. But, okay: what I like about Sloane Crosley’s essays aren’t (just) the experiences she describes–like having a roommate that was definitely a ghost, or seeing a baby bear die in Alaska. It’s passages like these, from that last story in How Did You Get This Number:

There is one thing you know for sure, one fact that never fails to comfort you: the worst day of your life wasn’t in there, in that mess. And it will do you good to remember the best day of your life wasn’t in there, either. But another person brought you closer to those borders than you had been, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Sentiments that are universal—that I recognize—but are also deeply personal, and which I’ve never quite managed to articulate.

It’s easy to get lost in a huge mess of white noise. But perhaps the more times you write something down, the more likely it becomes that you’ll pen a line that will rise to the top. It’s probability—math, guys.

So I’ll do as Sloane does. I’m going to calm down, buy some Halloween costume props on Etsy and get back to the business of enjoying some of my favorite things (The Knick is back! And Fargo!). Also, I’ll read The Clasp cover-to-cover, real quick. To see how much more growing up we’ve got left to do.

–Elise

Re: Postcard, Summer 2015

Hi, buddy!

Thanks for your letter. Your summer sounds like it was tremendous. Wish I could have been there, too.

The fugue state that is Chicago summer feels like months ago, instead of merely weeks. With October quickly approaching, we’ve entered the season of Impossible to Dress Yourself Since It Will Be Fifteen Degrees Warmer Later, or ItDYSIWBFDWL, for short. But fall truly is the best time of year. It holds so much promise—even without the beginning of the school year, autumn feels like the perfect time for reinvention and revitalization. Am I a Pilates Person who Reads the News now? Hey, at least for September.

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But let’s go back in time for a moment. Here are some of the things that I was jamming on this summer, about which I may or may not have already texted you.

Podcasts

I wish you had more patience for Beverly Hills, 90210 because Tara and Sarah (#squadgoals) are doing an amazing job recapping every episode on Again With This. You should at least be checking out the accompanying Visual Aids because, you know, comedy gold. I, on the other hand, subscribed to Hulu Plus to watch every second of the ten-season series because, just like Dylan and Brenda, I am going all in on this relationship.

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Co-sign on Death, Sex & Money. I teared up listening to Chaz Ebert’s episode. Love is real! All of Anna Sale’s interviews are handled masterfully—they each feel so honest. It helps, too, that her guests are game to be open books. I loved listening to Jane Fonda, Scott Aukerman with Kulap Vilaysack, Ellen Bustyn, and Joy Williams, too. And all the rest of them. Just go listen, already!

Books

I finally finished Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, five hundred months later. I appreciated the book more than I enjoyed it, but No Regrets 2015! Now, onto the miniseries…

Everyone should experience Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance via audiobook. Internet, contact me for more details. (Seriously.)

Mindy Kaling’s new book made me laugh out loud in public more than once. She’s a boss.

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TV

As readers of this blog may have noticed due to my sudden decline in coverage, I dropped True Detective like a hot rock. As much fun as I had mocking it, I could not carry on because it was total trash. If any of you out there are holding on senselessly to any shows that have gone off the rails, follow my example and let go. I also gave up on Masters of Sex, and I’m feeling great.

I binged Season One of Empire last month, which was amazing, but no one did batshit as well as UnREAL did this summer. Get on it, everyone. It may have aired on Lifetime, but UnREAL has an FX sensibility.

I already miss Playing House, but thanks to the podcast Womp It Up (a Comedy Bang Bang spinoff) and an iTunes purchase of the show Best Friends Forever, I’ll still have some Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham to keep me warm this winter. As a dude that I met on a dating app texted me the first night we started talking, “Alison, you are definitely crushing on Lena [sic] and Jessica.” The next day he passive aggressively complained when I didn’t respond immediately. Feeling great about my twelve-hour summer fling of 2015!

I still have not finished The Wire. I’ve got a real “slow and steady” thing going. I average about an episode every two weeks, which is the perfect pace for forgetting everything that’s happened so far.

Movies

I just Googled “summer movies 2015” because I had no memory of what I saw this year. Great sign!

I liked Trainwreck and Straight Outta Compton, loved Spy, and had my brain exploded by Magic Mike XXL. I’m a different, better person now.

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Music

James Bay (or Bae, if you will) is my new twentysomething-Brit-with-a-guitar crush. I saw him at Outside Lands in San Francisco, and have tickets to see him in Chicago in November. On a related note, there is a RedEye employee in my office who wears a similar round brim hat at his standing desk. My amateur diagnosis is that he’s trying too hard.

Lianne La Havas is a goddess. For Christmas, I’d like her jumpsuits and her casual cool.

I’ve re-signed my lease for the 2015-2016 year, which is a funny feeling. I’ll have at least one more winter and one more summer in Chicago. So much will be different by this time next year—mostly the newly wedded bliss of some of my favorite people, as 2016 is The Year of Weddings. The other changes, however, the changes in my own life, are ones I cannot foresee. And I’m excited for those.

Love,

Alison

P.S. Of course you brought corn on the plane. Of course you did.

Postcard: Summer, 2015

Hello friend:

Summer is perhaps, maybe, sadly…ending. As I write this, we are both returning from adventures that took us far away from home, with new appreciation for our beds, personal space and the English language.

I missed you—which is weird, because we don’t actually live in the same place. We are always apart. But summertime is different. I was out of the country, with limited Wi-Fi. You were in a Californian land of magical thinking, surrounded by lovely loonies who jammed the Golden Gate Park airwaves with Instagrams and Snaps.

dancing guyWe were unplugged.

I’ve been taking long, mulit-phase flights since I was very young, and I believe that there is something perfect and sacred about intercontinental travel. I’m not nearly so high-powered that I must be ever-available by email, and hovering thousands of miles above Earth strikes me as the best possible excuse for staying offline. Airline Internet isn’t strong enough to stream my shows anyway. (I did manage to watch the first three episodes of Playing House, season two on the tarmac.)

This summer vacation—though frustratingly truncated due to grown-up work schedules—I let go of my absolute compulsion to catch up and keep up with everything and everyone. But also, time away made me realize what I miss when it’s gone. Like always having you one text away. Here are all the things I wanted to share in real-time over the past few weeks:

I finally read Erik Larsen’s Dead Wake from cover to cover, and rediscovered a debilitating fear of the open sea. A recurring drowning-while-trapped-underwater nightmare that started when I first saw Titanic came back with full force, and I was like, this is what you get for reading gripping nonfiction about events that precipitated U.S. entry into the first World War, you raging nerd. That guy who plays the captain of the Titanic (and also the creepy possessed king in The Lord of the Rings movies) was there.

I JUST REALIZED that Anna Chlumsky of Veep is grown-up Vada from My Girl!!!!

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I listened to season one of Mystery Show while we drove around the countryside, and I’m pretty sure Starlee Kine is the greatest. I would happily make her voice my ringtone. How does podcast-funding work? Who is paying for Starlee’s gold-star, all-access meet-and-greet ticket to see Britney Spears? Should I just keep texting Starlee and Ira Glass five and ten dollars when they tell me to? Or maybe listen to Startup? I am intrigued by this business model.

I brought corn on the plane. Customs officials were not amused.

Finally watched Page One: Inside The New York Times on the train. Maybe I should read The New York Times more. Maybe I should get my own digital subscription. Maybe my office pays for that, actually…

Did you listen to the “Siblings” episode of Death, Sex and Money? My dad told me stories today about hiking the Himalayas with his brothers. Getting into fights, and then—hours later—peeing into bottles while storms howled outside their tent, and sharing a single sleeping bag for warmth. Sort of similar to rooming with Karoline in San Francisco, yes? Everyone should call their sisters and brothers right now and tell them that they’re the worst, but you love them anyway. [Karoline, return my texts.] There is something incredibly romantic and soothing about Anna Sale’s voice.

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Stop that, Gina Rodriguez. You deserve all the Emmys. I realize I’m 2.5 years behind you on this—Jane The Virgin is popcorn candy delicious funny. The CW: this is the best thing you have done since Veronica Mars.

DON’T WORRY. I traveled thousands of miles to a foreign country, and immediately found a hipster coffee shop that sells homemade granola, chocolate bars with 100% cacao and an adorable barista that I’ll call Fernando. He personally toured me around their chocolate-making operation. I’ve obviously returned every morning since.

Go Set A Watchman–what Roxane Gay said.

So, listen. I promise to be in touch now that I’m back. I’m working, easing back into my routine and waiting for autumn. Fall is actually my favorite season—a sentiment shared by everyone who has ever lived in (and loved) Chicago. September and October is gorgeous in Chicago. I hope that DC reflects some of that beauty.

Tell me about your summer soon, okay? You’re my fave.

–Elise

Text me.

I have a friend who tells the best First Contact stories. It’s remarkable—complete strangers are drawn to her (I mean, she’s beautiful) and then go out of their way (and possibly their minds) to track her down and text her in the craziest situations.

Here, the guy who hit her car:

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Here, the immensely unethical Verizon Wireless employee, taking advantage in a moment of post-phone recovery weakness:

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I’m so glad he specified “white dress shirt.” Otherwise she might have been confused.

I have great respect for the maker of The First Move. It’s incredibly hard to get right. This, from a girl whose thing is sending a Facebook friend request the morning after we meet, then being like, my work is done—it’s your turn.

Actually, I do okay. I get the number, send the text or email. Frankly—and this is a sentiment shared by most single friends of mine—I don’t meet that many interesting people. It’s a shame to let one slip by. So, creepy roadside dude: respect. Except maybe work on your text etiquette?

Aziz Ansari, as confused and exhausted by all this as any normal twenty-to-thirtysomething person alive, partnered with sociologist Eric Klinenberg to really examine (read: gaze in disbelief upon) dating rituals in his aptly titled book, Modern Romance. This American Life previewed their “social experiment”—a data-driven analysis of millennial attitudes toward love and relationships—last Sunday in a segment titled, “Romancing the Phone.”

I became a regular This American Life listener while living in the show’s hometown, Chicago. I heard my very first episode sitting on the curb at the Fullerton El stop, waiting for a boy who was always late, not very nice and never returned calls or texts. Needless to say, I crushed hard on him hard forever.

More than five years later, not much has changed.

Sunday’s episode of This American Life features Aziz and Eric at a comedy shop in New York City, soliciting real-life First Contact exchanges from their audience members—some truly appalling, others merely kind of sad in their sincerity and confusedness. My favorite goes like this:

[Text from boy stranger]: Hi.

Girl text: Hi…is this Connor?

Boy text: This is.

I imagine a confused and silent few minutes here, before the saintly Girl replies: Hi, what’s going on? 

Boy text: I’m actually just waking up. Picking my mix out for the morning. So far it’s consisting of Goodbye Horses and Big Pimpin.’

Girl text: Oh, nice! [NOT REALLY] What are you up to tonight?

Boy text: Not sure yet. I’m thinking I’ll eat some mushrooms.

This is what we’re working with.

Following a lively discussion of case studies like these, Aziz and Eric settle upon some best practices. Guys (and girls, because we can do it too!)–when you are in the very first tender and awkward stages of texting with someone you miiiight like, follow these simple rules:

Be personal. Hey, you mentioned that you like The National–have you heard this one? Check it out–it’s amazing.

Be specific. Want to get a drink at around 8pm tomorrow in Columbia Heights?

Be funny.

I take issue with this one—being funny is really hard. Also subjective. I think this actually means “be yourself.” Let your weirdo personality shine through. Don’t be aggressive about it, but know that if someone doesn’t get sarcasm and you’re a deeply cynical, observant and slightly judgmental person, it probably won’t work.

Ansari is hilarious. Klinenberg is interesting and smart. And it’s so very true: dating is hard. Today—via text, email Hinge, Tinder, OkCupid—being honest, knowing yourself and trusting people is really, epically hard. It’s so easy to unknowingly strike the wrong tone when you decide to put it all out there—or to ignore someone else when they do.

So, if you’re where I am right now—interested, freaked out, not sure about my life but certain that I’d like some company while I figure it out—take twelve minutes and listen to this excerpt of an always phenomenally sensitive and relevant show. What this audio clip demonstrates to me is: we’re all in this together. That people are basically kind, and calculated risks pay off, and if you’re a socially inept turd, that’s probably not going to change and stop it right now.

The courage to make the ask will set you apart. Or at least, it’s better than waking up the next morning and wishing you had…right?

–Elise

Summer Reading

The season of summer reads is upon us. Bustle has a must-list, and last week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast featured a boisterous panel of romance novel aficionados stacked with recommendations.

There is a special quality to a summer book—well, there is a special quality to summer everything. Road trips! Light! Music in parks! But a truly excellent book devoured during the hottest months is one of life’s great pleasures.

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I get nervous and sweaty when people ask me what kind of books I like for the season. I’ve never been a genre girl: I’ll read anything on a beach, as long as it’s well written. And that’s a lame answer. What I know is that in the summertime, I want big, bright colors. Stories with straight lines, that are also thematically ambitious—about love and family and growing up, with a touch of magic and theater.

Guess what. I found them.

Young adult fiction has undergone a remarkable transformation in the past decade—earlier, if you mark Harry Potter as the beginning of its renaissance. Novelists embraced the challenge of writing for an adolescent but freaky-smart, imaginative readership that rejects condescension. Readers that enjoy fantastical worlds and believe in first loves, but are also trapped in the day-to-day drudgery of growing up.

So-called “teen fiction” is explosively popular among all ages—see The Hunger Games, The Fault In Our Stars, the Divergent series (shout out to fellow Northwestern alum, Veronica Roth—can I borrow eleventy thousand dollars??).

These past few weeks, I’ve immersed myself in gorgeous stories and my own memories of teenage life-or-death, do-or-die, fill-your-soul and drown-your-body crushes, humiliations and freak-outs. That time my eighth grade boyfriend pointed skyward and named a pair of stars after the two of us. How my best friend and I had a knock-down, screaming fight over a Dido CD. Et cetera.

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Remember middle school? That was—literally—the worst. But also kind of the best, right? The good days were THE GREATEST DAYS, even if followed by ones filled with ultimate despair. Man, does that make for good reading and good writing.

Want a mini summer-starter book list? Here you go:

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

I’ll Give You The Sun, by Jandy Nelson

Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein

I’ve fallen madly in love with every one of these writers and their characters. Rowell, Nelson and Wein write with all the mad intensity of high school wallflowers. Jandy Nelson is a particular badass—to wit, an excerpt from I’ll Give You The Sun, about teenage twins who can’t live together and can’t live apart:

He reaches for my hands, takes them in his. Our eyes meet and hold, and the world starts to fall away, time does, years rolling up like rugs, until everything that’s happened unhappens, and for a moment, it’s us again, more one than two.

“Wow,” Noah whispers. “IV Jude.”

“Yeah,” I say, the enchantment of him feeding my very cells. I feel a smile sweep across my face, remembering all the light…

It’s more feeling than words, right? You know that sensation in your gut—but would probably never think to call it an IV hooked up to your loved one. A young person overcome by the poetry of a moment might, though. Nelson’s Jude, Rowell’s Cat and Wein’s Kittyhawk inherit the highest of stakes (more obviously so in Verity, the story of captured British spies in Nazi-occupied France)—but each story ends in triumph. Earned triumph—not a default happy ending.

Maybe that’s because every day you survive as a teenager is a victory. I don’t know. But I think I do—I remember it, kind of. And I’ll be reliving all that I can stand in the summer sun.

–Elise

A Special Day

Today is a very special day. [A young but mature-sounding number of] years ago, Alison was born, and she was fabulous.

Actually, she—like me—was pretty dorky and strange. Proud to let her freak flag fly until middle school—then, unsure how to contextualize her beautiful weirdness in a sea of scary pre-teens.

Until—college! Freedom! Thick-framed hipster glasses! And of course, many years of ME IN HER LIFE.

But this is about Alison. To celebrate, I have here compiled a few of her (and my) FAVORITE things, thematically united by girl-friendship and powered by strong, feminine wonder.

We encourage you to listen, watch, subscribe and enjoy—and to send one-half of your favorite blogging dynamic duo some love on her birthday.

WOMP IT UP!

lennon and jessI have already written ecstatically about the Lennon Parham/Jessica St. Clair best friendship—which inspired the delightful comedy Playing House on USA (returning for its second season this summer). 

Parham and St. Clair recently launched WOMP IT UP!, a hilarious podcast featuring recurring characters from Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang Bang! television show and podcast.

Join high school senior Marissa Wompler (St. Clair) and her BFF/sketchy middle-aged mentor and teacher, Ms. Listler (Parham) for hours of unending fun.

RIP Joan Rivers.

VERONICA MARS

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This was the very first show that Alison and I binge-watched together. Veronica Mars, a spunky and disconcertingly brilliant high school-aged private investigator, tackles all things dark, difficult and mysterious while navigating her own twisty adolescent feelings. Her buddy Mac—girl-computer genius—stands by her side throughout.

Often funny, super-entertaining, and available in TV, movie and –finally!—book form! Brought to you by the ridiculously awesome Rob Thomas.

TWO BOSSY DAMES

Created by sassy chicks not unlike Alison and me, Two Bossy Dames is a weekly newsletter in which, by their own description: “Margaret [librarian and pop culture critic Margaret H. Willison] and Sophie [Sophie Brookover, librarian and writer extraordinaire] boss the Internet with impeccable discernment and insouciant charm. Cultural recommendations and commentary every Friday evening. GIFs aplenty.”

Try it! If you don’t fall in love with Dames Margaret and Sophie immediately, consider us, as they might say, “highly puzzled by you.”

EXTRA HOT GREAT, FEATURING TARA ARIANO AND SARAH D. BUNTING

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A classic and immensely great pop culture podcast, conceived by the minds behind Television Without Pity and Previously.TV. Tara Ariano and Sarah D. Bunting co-founded both sites, along with Tara’s deliriously insane hubby, David T. Cole.

Each week, an in-depth gab-fest featuring uniquely sophisticated television and film commentary. These folks know literally everything about what’s on the tube. Also, a game-time segment at the end of each episode that is often bizarre and very fun to play along with in the comfort of your mind.

BROAD CITY

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If you have not already caught this show on Comedy Central, do yourself a favor—Youtube some clips, or catch season one for free on Amazon Prime.

These girls are adorably gross and in love with each other—a must-see for twentysomethings living in cities that haven’t a clue. Alison and I cannot decide who is which—probably both of us are Abbis, if we’re being totally honest.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUDDY!

 –Elise