“Happy birthday! Love, your favorite and only sister.” The closest most of us probably come to any handwritten confidence these days is signing a birthday card. Despite all the blank space inside enveloping a pithy sentiment, I don’t know many people who actually fill it up. Outside of Hallmark, parents don’t describe line by line how baby Tony tried to walk for the first time and biffed it on the coffee table. The photos are on Facebook. Friends don’t rehash last week’s party through long wine-stained scrawls. The rose got drank, and it was live tweeted.
Alone in a Crowd first looked at the piling on of social media and how that rapid but detached pace can contribute to loneliness. The responsibility falls heavier on us to reach below the harping statuses and Tweets to sustain meaningful connections with people. Malcolm Jones, a writer at Newsweek, observed, “The problem is not that there is not enough information about what we think or how we live. The problem is sifting through that sea of data. The most common complaint of our time is that we are overwhelmed by information, unmediated and unstoppable.”
For better or for worse, digitization will only become further integrated into our day-to-day life, so how can we embrace both the convenience and keep a grasp on mindfulness? How do we slow down? One reader, Naomi, tried something most of us probably haven’t done since grade school: pen pals. Jones also writes in Newsweek that “…if you do [write letters] enough, you begin to put your essential self on paper whether you mean to or not. No other form of communication yet invented seems to encourage or support that revelatory intimacy.” Below, Naomi describes why she decided to try pen palling and what she’s experienced as a 20-something exchanging letters around the globe.
Aside from the blatant cliche, there is a deeper truth in this quote. When we stay home, we stay comfortable. If you’re like me, you might have spent a lot of time wanting this. Then one day something changes. Maybe it’s a pretty photo on Instagram. Or a cheesy movie starring Julia Roberts, probably. Whatever it is, you get the bite. To leave. Not forever, of course. But to just go somewhere else.
As a single woman just passing the dreaded thirty threshold, travel felt to me like a foreign prospect (pun intended). In my somewhat dated perception, traveling alone for girls wasn’t all that common. And I, having no male companion to speak of, almost felt shut out of the opportunity for long-form vacations, believing they were reserved for couples in love or retirees with savings.
It wasn’t until I hopped my sixth or seventh plane in Southeast Asia, on the first big excursion of my life, that I realized my assumptions were all wrong. Not only was traveling easy for me, the fact that I was doing it my own way, on my own time, made it that much more fulfilling.
“Oh, My Heart” is the third album from Philly’s DIY scene’s Shannen Moser. It injects something vital into the listener, like nutrients to a healthy garden. The vibe holds a blend of the Dixie Chicks’ banjo storytelling and harmonizing and a more mature version of Girlpool’s innocent emotional tolls of growing older. Girlpool also plays in the same Philadelphia circles as Moser. “Oh, My Heart” sings to the heart of spring and the melt of winter.
The opening track, “I’m Going Home (Sacred Heart),” is a lilting intro with an almost gospel-sounding timbre. As the dust settles, “Alex (282)” sets you on solid ground. Moser inflicts her audience with a voice similar to Marissa Paternoster of the Screaming Females.
It’s about time some evil stopped triumphing around here for God’s sake. This won’t stop him from running his mouth elsewhere, but at least his most lucrative platform has been whisked away from him. I hope this causes him to take a long hard look at his pathetic excuse for a life and livelihood. I mean, it probably won’t, but hope got us this far.
I’m re-listening to Aparna Nancherla this morning. She is hilarious, but because everyone has different humor, and I’m rarely moved when people beg me to listen to something new, I can’t really sell you on her. All I can say is that you should spice up your day and give her album “Just Putting It Out There” a try. She has that sardonic twist that throws just the right amount of dry, grim introspection on things. Not Louis C.K. grim. Endearingly grim, with chuckles and mirth. She probably does have weird self-esteem, but she knows what she’s saying, plus she’s a comic so what else is she going to toy with? Check her out on Spotify, Bandcamp, or YouTube. I’ve included an extremely entertaining clip below where people in her acting class compare her to Aziz Ansari and… science. 😹