minute thoughts 8.14.19

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Thoughts while researching best pastry shops for my next trip to Paris

1. I loved this piece in New York Magazine so much—it resonated so acutely with me and the author perfectly articulates the joy of discovery that takes place in a foreign grocery store. It’s the reason I love 7-Elevens abroad so much (there was a great Quartz Obsession on it earlier this year), even though I never go to 7-Eleven at home, and the reason that the first thing I do in every country is find the nearest grocery store or convenience mart to see what kinds of snacks they sell. It’s the reason I always tell people my favorite parts of any place are the markets and the places of worship (where they eat and where they pray); it gives you an insight into local culture and everyday life. In Asia, the power of celebrity is unmistakable—it’s not uncommon to find boxes of hair dye or cartons of milk with beaming celebrities on them. In Europe, you’ll find a million different kinds of delicious pastries, all pre-wrapped because Europeans refuse to sacrifice quality for convenience. There’s something thrilling about finding new things in a grocery store in another country, like a treasure hunt, and it’s one of my favorite things about traveling.

2. I was introduced to something called a “brag document” by someone in The Cosmos and it’s such a good resource. It’s hard to keep track of everything that you do outside of work, and a résumé often doesn’t adequately cover all of your accomplishments. I like that the author includes sections like “collaboration & mentorship” and “company building,” because those things matter and there’s often no good place to talk about them. Great for use in your next case for a promotion or a raise.

3. I struggle with this a lot—shift responses vs. support responses. I think it’s actually a product of social anxiety, because I’m hyper aware of the other person and I tend to focus on trying to relate to them and validating their emotions rather than just listening to them and responding like a normal person. Someone on Reddit pointed out that it was “listening to respond vs. listening to hear” and it’s definitely something I think about often and something I have to actively work on.

4. I know the news cycle is insane (Jeffrey Epstein? Are you kidding me right now? I have never been a conspiracy person until this), but I am beyond furious at our government’s lack of response to the recent mass shootings. The fact that I have to clarify which mass shootings I’m referring to is maddening enough, but the fact that it’s actually not dramatic to fear being shot in a movie theater or an elementary school or a nightclub or at a garlic festival is so incredibly f*cked up. We are not safe anywhere, and that alone should be a terrifying revelation to everyone. Anyone opposing gun control is a sociopath that has no business owning a gun, and the hypocrisy is astounding—their arguments go against all American values. Because to be scared for your safety to appease a group of people that feel entitled to own automatic weapons as private citizens is not freedom; it is oppression.

5. Fascinating and nostalgic.

6. This whole article about the genesis of WeWork and its mission (“to elevate the world’s consciousness”) is completely insane. It’s particularly entertaining because it starts out like a typical profile of a unicorn and then just goes so far off the rails. I’m always morbidly fascinated by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs that truly think they’re solving the world’s problems; I think you have to have that mindset if you want to make it in Silicon Valley, but they’re always just so incredibly out of touch that it’s honestly astounding. It should be noted that I think they could have settled for a much less lofty mission statement, like “Creating environments to help people grow and thrive” and it would’ve been fine, but “Elevating the world’s consciousness” is beyond pretentious.

7. I found my British coworker’s blog and he writes very beautifully and makes some A+ observations about American culture, but his thoughts on the night before Election Night 2016, as he ruminates on his dual citizenship, are particularly salient and have stayed with me since I read them:

So on the floor of the Fresno Convention Center, along with four hundred other people, I took the naturalization oath. I swore to abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty even though I did so in the full knowledge that the diplomatic compromise of dual citizenship was allowed, and even though I was becoming American, I was still British, born and bred. I felt, as I made that oath, like a bigamist saying his second set of wedding vows in the full knowledge that his first wife was happily waiting for him at home.

And yet for all the indifference I may have felt at the ceremony, tomorrow, in casting my ballot, feels like the first act I am making solely as an American.

Americans like to talk about their nation’s exceptionalism, about its unique place in the world, and with that comes a degree of culpability; tomorrow I assume my share of that culpability. I will be part of America the beautiful, and of America the ugly. When America does things in the world that I don’t approve of, or that others don’t approve of, I can no longer play aloof, it is my government too now. A government that will have been formed in a process I, as an American, will have taken part in. This election, this fascinating, bizarrely compelling election has been viewed by me a lot in those terms, that this election–for me–ends in me being American.

8. One of the most relatable things from How I Met Your Mother that I think about fairly often is the concept of a knowledge gap, of which I was recently reminded when I was informed that thunder is caused by lightning. For some reason, I’d always just assumed that thunder was the product of storm clouds; it never occurred to me that the lightning was causing it. It just shows how much attention I paid in Earth 20.

9. This made me long for rainy mornings wandering around the cobblestone streets of Le Marais with a pastry in hand, with the scent of fresh bread and espresso in the air. I can’t believe it’s been two years since I went to Paris. But going behind-the-scenes of a French bakery at 4 am is now my dream.

10. The Jane the Virgin finale had its flaws but god, I loved it so much. It was the perfect end to such a perfect show. I know I’ve talked about it in a Minute Thoughts before, but I truly think it’s so underrated. The perfect mix of funny and sweet, with amazingly complex character arcs and exploration of real-life subjects. But what’s really striking about it is its capacity for kindness. It would be easy to make a telenovela fueled by pettiness and meanness, but Jane the Virgin somehow always led with compassion, even if it acknowledged that that itself was difficult. A lot of entertainment publications found it extraordinary as well—The Ringer’s ”The Nice Girl Finishes First,” Bustle’s “‘Jane The Virgin’ Is A Fantasy Of Kindness & A Worthy Antidote To “Grim” Prestige TV,” and The Week’s “What Jane the Virgin knows about happiness” are all great reads and beautiful tributes to the final season of the show.

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