ReaderWriterVille

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Through Day 80 in the100 Day Dress Challenge

Hi everyone! It’s been a few. I thought I’d return to the blog-living with a post on the dress challenge I wrote about in January. This is a challenge by the clothing company Wool&. You wear one of their merino wool dresses for 100 straight days (about 8 hours per day), take a photo each day, and if you make it to Day 100 and send them the photo proof, they’ll give you a $100 credit to use in their store. I started the challenge on January 5 and finished Day 80 yesterday. At this point I’m fairly certain I’ll make it to Day 100 and, more importantly, I should be able to remember to take photos on the remaining days. That’s been the biggest challenge so far.

This is obviously a promotional effort by Wool&, and there are apparently advertisements all over Instagram and Facebook. The challenge idea began in 2012 when the founder of the parent company, Wool + Prince, wore one of his men’s shirts for 100 days. When they first created the women’s version they offered 13 women a free dress if their wore one of their dresses for 100 days. Thousands of completed challenges later the compensation is $100, which doesn’t buy you a whole dress but gets you almost 75 percent of the way there (and you can use it for other things as well). Equally obviously, this is not something most people do for the money. $1/day is not going to keep anyone in the same dress for over three months, not if they could afford to buy the dress in the first place. But a surprising number of women have completed the challenge.

I wrote before about my motivations in starting. It was the beginning of the year, I wanted to do something to change up my wardrobe decision-making, and while I like dresses, I’ve been wearing trousers far more than skirts, let alone dresses. I’m not on social media and I use an ad blocker, so it wasn’t the siren song of ads or conversations. No, I went looking to do this to myself.

Unlike many of the women who participate, I didn’t join the very active Facebook group or hashtag my daily wears on Instagram. I didn’t even blog the experience here after my initial post. I told about three people I was doing it (apart from you, my faithful readers). I did read a LOT of posts by women doing the challenge, and I scrolled the Facebook and Twitter hashtags (Instagram locks you out if you’re not logged in). I picked up some ideas about how to vary the look. This proved harder to do when I was in California, because I hadn’t brought many clothes with me. But I wasn’t going many places and my meetings were all on Zoom, so I just put the dress on every day and added layers as the weather required.

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Weeknote 1

Thank you all for the lovely and welcoming comments on my last post. I have no idea whether this blogging thing will take again, but weeknotes seem like the best way to get back into the swing of posting.

I read novels! I finished Percival Everett’s Telephone, which I’d started in December 2021. It was excellent. If you’ve read anything about the book you know that there were three published versions. They don’t differ that much, but the few changes do have an effect on the way readers see the character and also the way the ending is presented. I read the “C” version, which is probably the saddest but still has a feeling of hopefulness about it. The story involves a sick child, character deaths, and a less than entirely sympathetic narrator, so I can’t recommend it to every reader without caveats, but Everett is a tremendous writer and his depiction of academia and academics is pitch-perfect. I also read an early Maigret, The Saint-Fiacre Affair, which was also very good but had so many exclamation points. I don’t know if it was the translator’s choice or in the original, but I don’t associate Maigret with those. And I just finished A Far Cry From Kensington, by Muriel Spark. It draws on Spark’s experiences working in publishing and it’s wonderfully astringent. There were a lot of angry, extremely talented women in the 1950s, weren’t there?

If you’re wondering how I managed to read 2+ books in a week after taking a year to read 18, well, it’s winter break. And the latter two were short. I love a big baggy novel as much as anyone, but short novels are really handy when you aren’t sure your concentration will hold up, especially when they’re as well written as these are. It does make me want to read a 19thC doorstopper, though.

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TGIF and the end of 2021

Well hello there. It’s been a while. Except for a quick post back in April, I haven’t blogged since January. I don’t entirely remember why, except that I didn’t want to add to the online cacophony and I’ve been trying to live my life offline as much as possible. Looking back, I realized that I’ve blogged less than a dozen times since May 2020.

But I miss blogging in a number of ways:

  • I miss my regular visitors and knowing how they are.
  • I miss writing; no, that’s not accurate because I write quite a bit in other venues. But I miss the kind of writing blogging is, the musing out loud and then having it go out into the world. Despite not wanting to participate in the online world much, I missed this kind of participating. Social media is so different from the old blog world.
  • I miss documenting my existence in a way that isn’t entirely self-referential. I still journal semi-regularly, but that’s just for me. The in-between of expressing oneself in public in an informal way isn’t really captured elsewhere, at least not that I have access to.
  • I like end of the year posts!

Having been away so long, it’s hard to know what to write. Year-end format to the rescue!

READING

I read less fiction this year than I have in decades. A grand total of 18 books. There were a couple of months where I didn’t finish a single novel. And I only got to 18 because I read a handful of really short books, barely novella-length. I can’t tell you why I read so little this year because I don’t know. There was the Euro not-2020 tournament in the summer, but that’s not stopped me before. And I’ve been reading for work without any trouble. Ah well, I just hope 2021 was a one-off, because I missed reading even when I couldn’t manage it.

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Congratulations Natalie!

INatalie Luhrs, AKA @Eilatan on Twitter, was nominated for a 2021 Hugo award for Best Related Work. She was recognized for her angry, passionate, wonderful post about last year’s Hugo awards.

There are people who are not happy about this. As is their right. (I’m not linking, you can find it pretty easily if you really want to read the thoughts of people who Know Best How To Honor Their Precious Award.)

I am very happy for Natalie and for the recognition of this particular work. I read the post when she wrote it and thought it was great. I’m not a Hugo voter but I’m glad that there were plenty of eligible voters who saw its value and put it on the board.

And for what it’s worth (not much), I read the first four Song of Ice & Fire books and thought they were wow!great! to good! to fine? to meh in sequential order. We watched the first episode of the HBO series, found it creepy and un-selfaware in its celebration of rapeyness, and didn’t continue.

But the important part of of this post is: Congratulations to Natalie!!! You go, girl.

January recap

The groundhog said six more weeks of winter, and right on schedule an Arctic blast is heading toward us. We had days of rain this week but now snow and sub-zero temperatures are on their way. Good times. In other news, while I can’t say that every day is just like the one before, they are way too similar for my liking. At least Bill Murray was eventually able to modify his behavior to escape Groundhog Day. Meanwhile, here in Missouri, the vaccine has made it to hospital staff (which is very good) but not much past that.

WORK

I been teaching my undergraduate class in hybrid format for the last two weeks. This means that some students come to class and the rest log in remotely on Zoom. I’m in a classroom that has a non-pandemic capacity of 84 and a pandemic capacity of 31. So far I’ve had four or five students show up in person out of the 29 total in the class. I may get more, although probably not this week, what with the cold snap. But even having a handful makes it feel a bit more like a normal class. I am not good yet at managing the balance between the two groups, although we’ve had some stretches where people from both sites are talking. I’ll get back on our Teaching & Learning Center’s website and see if they have tips I haven’t thought of yet. It’s a work in progress, and it’s tiring, but it is so nice to be back in the classroom. And the mask isn’t nearly as inhibiting as I thought it would be; I have frequently forgotten I’m wearing it.

We have had several department meetings, none of them particularly enjoyable. We did revive our longest-running seminar as a Zoom meeting this week, and that worked well. It was lovely to see everyone again, and the paper was good, with excellent analysis from the discussant and equally insightful questions from the rest of the participants. Scholarship occurred!

Papers are being revised for resubmission to journals. Grant proposals are being written.

READING/WATCHING/LISTENING

I finished one novel and part of a second in January. That was it. It’s the least I’ve read in years, probably more than a decade. I wanted to read, I wasn’t having reader’s block, I just didn’t have the time. The one book I did complete was excellent: Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel about BBC people during the early years of WWII and the Blitz: Human Voices. It follows the fortunes of a handful of producers, assistants, and voice talent over the course of a few months. It’s very episodic with not much plot to speak of. People come and go, they experience love, career events, and sorrows. She drops the reader into the setting without explanation and you have to navigate any number of acronyms and jargon, but I just went with the flow.

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