Web Time Wasters

What’d you get up to this week, guys? I filed my taxes (aaaahhh! feels so good to be done ahead of time!), stuffed my face with momos, and crossed ‘Take Adult Ballet Class‘ off my New Things list. As you’re reading this, I’m on my monthly-ish DIY writing retreat. Without exaggeration, it has changed my professional life. Here’s how to do one of your own!

Lovely stuff from some of my sponsors

Meg Worden‘s tagline is “Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow” and I am 100% on board. Getting healthy often has less to do with which cardio class we take and more to do with why we’re eating what we’re eating and the stories we tell ourselves. Also: I love her ‘43 Things I’ve Learned In 43 Years‘ essay.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that in the last year, I’ve pointed 10-15 friends in the direction of Laura Simms. She writes about small actions you can take when you don’t feel valuable at work and how to juggle all the things. She’s great!

Yup. Worth the hype.

You guys loved my interview with Nick and Anna. In this podcast, Kristen interviews Nick about “the most surprising parts of leaving being a female behind, the sales messages he wishes males and females would learn to communicate more clearly, and what it’s like to have serious leg hair after spending about the first few decades of your life as a woman.”

Ha! Samantha makes a compelling (and hilarious) argument for small town life over Chicago.
“i thought i was committed to being a city person but i’ve been in both new york and los angeles for work (LOL) over the past few months and rather than being like “hooray! look at all of the expensive juice options laid before me!” i’ve instead found myself thinking “shit, have there always been this many people on earth?”

i thought moving away for good was gonna be hard but let me tell you something amazing: mavis and i went to a 4:05 showing of get out the other day and we left the crib at 3:50 and didn’t miss a single preview. i would’ve left chicago twenty years ago if i’d known that never again would have to hover in the freezing doorway waiting for a dinner reservation.”

Some good, interesting, important relationship-related stuff:

Somewhat related: a sexy, incredibly inclusive music video from … Ariana Grande?

One of my favorites ‘treats’ is beautiful hardcover editions of books I’ve read a million times. After a long week, I treated myself to this (for a whopping $12).

7 easy, lazy hairstyles for dirty hair. #yes

Lately, I’ve spent a loooooot of time thinking about people who have view points that oppose mine and how to talk to them and interact with empathy, compassion, and grace (I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER IF YOU DO PLEASE TELL ME.) Here are some things I’m reading that will hopefully help:

Related: if you need a break from calling your senators, might I suggest calling other politicians who are doing good things and thanking them? Even if you’re not their constituent?

This week I called Chris Christie and thanked him for telling GOP members they needed to hold town halls and I called Tim Walz and thanked him for co-sponsoring the Resolution of Inquiry into Trump’s ties to Russia. Both times, the person answering the phone was thrilled to hear from me and thankful that I was thankful!

If you love food + stories you’ll love Stirr.

The avocado sticker we all need + deserve.

Disney subcultures? FASCINATING.

Sweden: awesome as usual.

Whaaat? Did you know you can make any moisturizer or foundation into self-tanner?

A cute 73-question interview.

Hope you guys had a lovely weekend!


Bianca B.

I’ve never clicked on so many links in months! Also, I’m way beyond curious to know how your adult ballet class went:)


Another book to add to your list is Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All-American Town.


I too love hardcover books 🙂 I’m currently unemployed (bah) and as soon as I get a paycheck, I’m buying myself this beautiful set of Roald Dahl hardcovers with full illustrations by Quentin Blake. Talk about motivation!

Also, I just realized that you were the first one to introduce me to Samantha & bitches gotta eat via one Web Time Wasters of yore, so thanks!! I love her <3


Re: the books you’re reading! As someone who is from a coal family, I cannot express my hatred for Hillbilly Elegy enough. It’s all about how the problems in coal country are because of deficiencies in the culture of Appalachia, instead of government policy that ruined organized labour and caused deindustrialization. There’s a pretty good article that also summarizes why I hate it in the New Republic (https://newrepublic.com/article/138717/jd-vance-false-prophet-blue-america). ANYWAYS I loved the link about moving out of Chicago, it was really hilarious!

Jade Lenier

My answer as to your “how to talk to people I don’t agree with” thing is this: accountability + empathy. You can acknowledge the fears and concerns behind a problematic belief, while factually and kindly dismantling the false (or harmful) assumptions of those beliefs.

For example, when Target introduced their pro-trans bathroom policy, many people were really concerned for their safety. A lot of this boiled down to two arguments 1) stranger danger or transphobia bc they were unfamiliar with trans people or 2) the fear that men would enter women’s bathrooms and claim a trans identity in order to escape prosecution if they victimized someone.

When confronted with these ideas I said things like this: “It’s completely understandable that you feel uncomfortable, no one can tell you how to feel and you are free to only use bathrooms that do not have this policy. It’s totally your right to feel safe, and since Target is a private company they also have the right to create these policies.

Transgender people also have the right to feel safe. There is no evidence that trans people are more likely to victimize someone in a public bathroom, as they are waaaaaay more likely to be victimized or murdered in any circumstance than a cisgender person. Because these policies are new, we have little data on what happens when they are in place, but current circumstances don’t indicate any reason that male to female sexual assault or violence would increase because of these policies. People who want to victimize someone probably won’t be deterred by a sign on a bathroom anyway.”

It was really effective but required a tremendous amount of patience. People don’t like to be told that they are prejudiced, so I tend to go for whatever is underneath the prejudice- intolerance, in-group bias, confirmation bias, decades of unquestioned privilege, and extend compassion to those root fears without allowing bigoted ideas to be held up as valid. I hope that helps!


I applaud your efforts to have conversations with grace and kindness with those who disagree with you, but perhaps include (as well as what seem like anthropological studies on the right), books that explore & make arguments that the right has been making. I don’t say that to persuade (in fact, I think understanding the actual arguments of the other side keeps us from talking past each other), but I do think it is also important to not just assume that these people only voted Trump because they could not handle facts or are disadvantaged and uneducated. I would highly recommend Philip Hamburger on the administrative state (he recently published a great article on executive administration and due process on City Journal recently) and George J. Borjas, who I think adequately explains that concern about immigration is not just out of racism. Although Charles Murray is considered scandalous, I would say his book Coming Apart also explains what most conservatives (including Never Trumpers) understand as a starting place for understanding the “Trump phenomenon”. Anyways — sorry for such a long, rambling comment. As someone who did vote Trump this year, I appreciate the efforts for kindness & like yourself, I too am trying to educate myself on the opinions of the other side (another great reason to add more things to read & think about!). Take care, Ali

Sarah Von Bargen

That’s a great point, Ali. I actually grew up in Trump country so I’m not unfamiliar with the conservative mindset. Not by a loooooooongshot. 😉

Sarah Von Bargen

Also, if you’re ever interested in doing a ‘True Story: I Voted For Trump’ and discussing how/why you looked past the pussy-grabbing comments, mocking the disabled reporter, the lawsuits, the lack of political experience, calling Mexicans racists, etc, I’d be interested in hearing your story!


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