"I give you money, you give me ideas" - though perhaps it’s a bit more nuanced than that.

Is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Season 1 theme song ever far from my mind? It is not.

I recently went back to the A.V. Club’s repository of Mad Men reviews and searched for “The Suitcase.” The reason this episode made the Best 100 list on The Ringer is because of the famous conversation between Don and Peggy (the “that’s what the money’s for!” conversation), and Emily VanDerWerff’s review offers some thoughts on that inarguably essential moment - it couldn’t not. But of course there’s more to the episode than its top-line dialogue: how about the scene between Peggy and Trudy in the bathroom at SCDP, as Trudy casually reflects on the experience of being pregnant, Peggy pretends to be interested and simultaneously pretends she isn’t thinking about how she, too, had a baby (whose bio father is Pete, Trudy’s husband) that no one but Don knows about? There’s nothing soapy or dramatic about this very brief exchange despite all of the subtext, and it’s probably somewhere near the bottom of the most-memorable-scenes-in-s4ep8 list: how could it possibly contend with Don finding Roger’s taped notes-to-self? The showdown over the phone with Mark at the restaurant? Peggy and Don sliding from the diner to the bar after seeing a roach? Duck literally trying to take a shit on Don’s chair (but failing because it’s actually Roger’s chair)? Peggy and Don standing side-by-side in his office as he takes her hand, just for a moment? ALL IN THIS ONE EPISODE. Trudy and Peggy in the bathroom are unmemorable because the interaction perfectly underplayed (Trudy to Peggy: “You’re witty - I always assumed but now I see that it’s true” - eesh): the platonic ideal of a Mad Men scene. How did anyone ever figure out what to write about this show?

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I don't need 37 pieces of flair to do it

Coach MK and I have been busy this week! No fewer than four podcast episodes were released containing my voice - something I never thought I would say - and to me the crown jewel is this Friday’s morning mantra, the moment where I finally got to give the world my spin on Jennifer Aniston’s standout scene in Office Space.

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Inhalations and Exhalations (recommendations?)

This week’s “what I’m inhaling right now” includes: Patricia Lockwood, Manoush Zomorodi, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and more. Light, digestible reviews, many of them highly inconclusive, by which I mean still full of curiosity.

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The June reset button is flashing

Writing this blog began as a choice, not a thing I felt like I had to do (contrast that to revising my dissertation into the eventually-rejected book). And I know that I love writing too much to make it a stick to beat myself with. So this month, I’m resetting. Not because I feel like I should, but because I want to.

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Mother's Day, a holiday where I'm supposed to thank the world for giving a shit (it doesn't)

It was the Delta Airlines Mother’s Day card, tucked into my back pocket all this time, that made me furious. It wasn’t the fact that I’d spent my first Mother’s Day in a car with a wailing infant, then in line at airport security, and now on a plane covered in vomit - though none of that particularly helped. It was the fact that this airline was congratulating itself for printing out some pink branded postcards (which were absolutely meant to benefit moms, of course, not to mention great for the environment), while also staring awkwardly at me as I asked where I could change my baby. There was no effort to help, or even any real acknowledgment that this was an actual problem. There was a Delta Airlines Mother’s Day card, though! Call it even?

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Not today.

A mantra isn’t necessarily aspirational, because repeating “I am strong” or whatever when you are actually scared doesn’t really help. It needs to be something that cuts right to the truth and gives you something to grasp, something concrete and specific, something evocative and relatable. It’s fun and it’s challenging and, like this blog, I find myself filling up with new things to say and new ways to frame them. Today’s mantra is Arya Stark’s mantra (sans spoilers!), but it’s definitely for you even if you’re neither a trained assassin with a hit list nor even a casual Game-of-Thrones watcher.

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Don't wait for it.

There are pictures of me, my brother, and my two cousins, as high school kids, where you can easily tell which of these things is not like the other. We were pretty close to each other growing up, and I burned with shame when we were all together with our parents in the room and the talk turned to sports. Specifically, their achievements, which were honestly impressive as hell. Whatever gene was involved in producing all this athletic talent must have missed me. I played on teams that didn’t cut anyone, and only because it was not optional. Every sports practice I attended in high school filled me with anxiety, so strong was my sense that I did not belong there. No one in my family was ever anything but kind to me about my figurative participation trophies, but I always assumed they thought less of me, or worse, pitied me. Was I wrong to hope that running a marathon might impress them?

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