Side effects

No joke. From the New York Times:

Could common prescription medications be contributing to depression and rising suicide rates?

Over one-third of Americans take at least one prescription drug that lists depression as a potential side effect, a new study reports, and users of such drugs have higher rates of depression than those who don’t take such drugs.

Many patients are taking more than one drug that has depression as a side effect, and the study found that the risk of depression increased with each additional such drug taken at the same time.

In the last few years I had to go cold turkey on birth control pills and more than one asthma medication (inhalers, antihistamines) because I could tell they were messing with my brain. I recognized pretty quickly that ongoing, daily, seemingly bottomless slack-jawed depression and intense fits of weeping were 100% not the norm for me—and was lucky enough to pinpoint what was causing them—but it felt like a very slippery downhill slope. I’m certainly not advocating this route for all peoples, but it’s important to be aware of, and pay attention to.

Forward by

I'm sitting on the sofa in my pajamas at 11:58 a.m. I just finished my lunch (farro topped with these Jodhpur lentils from Tasty Bites; tiny peppers; banana) and have nowhere to be until 7:30 p.m. (The Cher Show, if you can believe it!). I had two recruiter calls scheduled for today; one of them failed to call and the other I pushed back to next week as I'm preparing for two real interviews on Thursday and those jobs aren't going to get themselves.

Is this any way to live a life?

I awoke later than usual (6:30 a.m.) and was immediately in a bad mood, for hormone reasons. I was ready to be crabby all day, to lean in to some generalized, zero-proportion rage, but as I microwaved my morning oatmeal I heard Lin Brehmer on XRT say "The world is changing, bro" as he led into a song—from what I could tell, apropos of nothing—and I laughed out loud, on and off, for the next half an hour. Naturally this torpedoed all my previous plans, which included no smiling again, ever. I told my friend Groucho once that Lin Brehmer is the only man I would consider marrying, and it's still true. I really, really love Lin Brehmer (an already-married man I do not know and despite all this evidence to the contrary have no plans to stalk). Keep this news between yourself and this blog, thanks.

+ I'm reading this Grand Forks book of restaurant reviews by that lady who took all the heat for writing about the Olive Garden way back when, and who Anthony Bourdain championed and then rewarded with a publishing contract. It's quite charming but many of the reviews, which date back to the mid-80s, include italicized, no-context "where are they now?" disclaimers at the end that are severely heartbreaking. A small sampling:

  •  "At the Tomahawk, They Roast the Whole Turkey, People Go to the Highway Cafe for the Kind of Meals They Used to Eat at Home: Meat, Potatoes, Pie": Marilyn says Tomahawk has closed down, and there is no new restaurant in its place.
  • "Sonja's Hus Has Cheery Blue and Red Norwegian Decor": The Regency Inn and Sonja's Hus no longer operate in East Grand Forks.
  • "Frenchy's Cabaret Has New Menu with Combo Options": Hubert 'Frenchy' LaCrosse closed Frenchy's in the mid-1990s.
  • "Mr. Steak Aims to Be the Gathering Place for Birthdays": Mr. Steak is no longer in business.
  • "Neon Lights, Burgers, Malts Are Topper's Trademarks": Topper's succumbed to a fire and the site is now home to a bank.

Jesus Christ! She also reports that Mr. Steak served an average of 100 to 110 free birthday steaks every week, so maybe it's no surprise they're out of business. More than anything else this book is a good reminder that most restaurants started out as somebody's dream, which was then ground into the dirt by the fickle and unknowable appetites of humanity.

The magic of ordinary

I subscribe to 8 billion newsletters and am always glad to add another. This is the gift of the internet, which is appalling in so many ways. Enjoy it when you can! Jesus Christ! We're all dying!

This is from food writer Ruby Tandoh, who I just found at this website:

And the magic doesn’t stop there. When the bread hits the oven, proteins and sugars in the dough transform in what is maybe my favourite chemical reaction of all time: the Maillard reaction. It gives that lovely, slightly chewy, golden top to a loaf of bread, as well as all these things: the rich, sweet, browned layer on the very outside of a steak cooked to perfection; the soft upper edge of a Madeira cake, that melts on your tongue; onions collapsing into a caramelised, sticky tangle in a butter-slicked pan; dulce de leche, scooped by a finger straight from the jar; the chewy, salty, mahogany crust of a fresh-baked pretzel. This complex, wondrous chemistry even makes an appearance at the breakfast table. While your eyes are still heavy with sleep, it’s there in your mug of coffee, your breakfast cereals, and even in the pleasure of a slice of perfectly golden-brown, buttered toast. It doesn’t matter how culinarily skilled (or otherwise) you are – if you can make toast, you’re a modern-day alchemist.


In all of time

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
— Martha Graham, quoted by Agnes DeMille

The only thing you need to read about the royal wedding

Actually I have read many, many things, but as a general life rule I'll follow Caity Weaver anywhere she goes:

“Why do you care?” is a question that has been slapped against me like a cold, slimy haddock carcass many times since the royal wedding became a topic of conversation last fall. The answer is: I don’t care at all, and yet I must know every detail or I will die. Do I love “Suits,” the show on which Meghan Markle portrayed a former paralegal? Yes. Have I ever seen “Suits”? Absolutely not. Do I have plans to watch it? No, no offense. Am I addicted to Meghan Markle? One hundred percent. What is the cure? More Meghan. Am I Meghan? Unclear. Am I not not Meghan? Almost certainly. What would I do if Meghan attempted to install herself as a monarch ruling over the United States? Strike her down. Do the inner workings of the British monarchy affect me in any way? Meghan loves cross-body bags.


On voluntary aloneness

From Linda Holmes at NPR, "The luxury of solitude":

We have a certain cultural mistrust of solitude, I think. It is for weirdos and lost souls, spinsters and misfits. But in truth, I can't tell you what a luxury I think it is to be entitled to it. Most of the time, I want good company, like most people do. But the experience of earned, voluntary aloneness is, among other things, instructive. I don't think you can really understand how accustomed you are to being scheduled and operating off an internal to-do list at almost all times until you think to yourself, "My goal will be to get to Providence by 4," and then you think, "Why is there a goal?"

+ see also: "Everything you make is an engine," flagged in Laura Olin's weekly newsletter, which you should subscribe to


The blogs are gone. And those who blogged the blogs are gone. (fyi: nerd check)

Why blog? Nobody knows. There is no reason. Who blogs? Nobody. Read all of this, though. A fine era is ending.

+ Magic 8 Ball says I'll come up with something blog-ish or blog-like or at least tangentially blog-adjacent sooner or later. Blog-sensitive, even, in order to maintain my highly respected blog cred. In the meantime, here are some interesting takes on recent news!

From trusted internet writer Kaitlyn Tiffany at The Verge: The Aziz Ansari story is a mess, but so are the arguments against it:

But as the Babe story has demonstrated, there’s also been an uncomfortable collision between that democratizing force and the traditional media gatekeepers who seem to resent it, or resent their inability to control it. They do a disservice to the truth when they are willing to call a woman a liar because her choice of platform seems unsavory or unserious, despite its careful vetting of the facts. And it’s problematic that they would choose not to believe she was harmed because she was able to speak of a complicated and painful experience with some candor and humor.

In a perfect world, Grace would have walked out the door. But women are so strongly socialized to put others’ comfort ahead of our own that even when we are furiously uncomfortable, it feels paralyzing to assert ourselves. This is especially true when we are young.

When feminists do try to talk about this sexual imbalance, we get written off as anti-sex prudes. This is strange, because what we actually want is a norm of good sex for everyone involved, instead of the status quo of sex as a male-led endeavor, centered on male pleasure. Women seem to have two sexual possibilities: yes or no. Note that men never have to say “no means no” or even “yes means yes”. They’re the ones posing the question, not answering it.

Men aren’t morons, and they know as well as anyone that a woman who is silent, physically stiff, or pulling away is not exactly aflame with desire. But they also know that we are collectively invested in a social script wherein men push to get sex until women acquiesce. And so they push, even when they know it’s unwelcome, because they can.

Both of these pieces helped me examine my own initial reactions to this story, and that's the end of what I can handle vis-à-vis "news" news these days. I read the news, I share the news, I support the news, but maybe—maybe?—there's too much of it. News for thought.

Instead there's this:

Take time to celebrate everything about today, because what we know now is that whatever happens it won’t be as bad as tomorrow.

And also this!

There is no God, obviously. But Dolly bless us, everyone.

On faith & choices

TV shows reflect the people who make them, but few shows make you feel the creator’s sensibility as palpably as Sherman-Palladino’s. She is a woman of specific tastes: She likes pink, sparkles, and Dorothy Parker, whom her production company is named after, Minnie Mouse (obviously), hats, energy, movement, and using lots of words, except when expressing love, which one should express with deeds, lest things get “schmaltzy.” She writes to delight us by delighting herself, and sometimes, as with the residents of Stars Hollow, the bowler hat in Lorelai’s wedding wardrobe, or the way men unfailingly swoon at her series’ charming but self-centered heroines, she is delighted by things we may not be but that are part of the viewing experience, part of watching something made by someone who has an implacable faith in her own preferences.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is delightful in every way.

Working while female

Documentary producer Sheila Nevins at the New York Times:

“If women want to parade as pinups, that has nothing to do with harassment,” Ms. Nevins says. “If I look at a delicious ad for ice cream, I don’t have to devour it or slobber it down. If women sell a product by being provocative, that’s not an invitation to be harassed or abused as professionals in a workplace. There are many faces of Eve. No presentation she chooses says, ‘Abuse me.’”

George Saunders on “A Christmas Carol”

On the occasion of my annual viewing of A Muppet Christmas Carol, here's George Saunders on the book he wishes he'd written:

I love the book’s boldness, how willing it is to throw an arm around the reader and say: This concerns you too. Near the end, Scrooge stands looking at what everyone in the world except Scrooge must by now know is Scrooge’s own grave. The reader can’t help imagining his or her own grave, and to have the same reaction Scrooge is having: That grave is similar to mine, but it is not mine, since mine will never exist, since I am not going to die. Then that bony finger juts out, urging Scrooge to look, and he gets the message, and so do we: death is real, time is short – yes, even for us. But for now, the world exists (it still exists!) and is seen, correctly, as a kind of joyous field of potential play: a place to learn to love.


Internet writers you should read

On the first day of school there was a woman who was in charge of welcoming new parents, and she was wearing a tennis outfit. “I play every day,” she told me when I asked her about it, and I thought, America!

Female internet writers, that is (some of many! and by no means exclusive to the internet):