Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod Review

I’m officially branching out into the “privileged white woman self help daydream” genre. There’s probably a shorter name for that, but you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I picked this book up because someone had abandoned it (and 19 others) during move in month at my apartment building. I’ll start any book. Whether or not I finish them is a different story.

Cover of Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod

I did finish Paris Letters. I’m going to give it some shit here, but it was honestly cute. It was well-written and lovely. I was wholeheartedly invested when I thought this was fiction. Janice is likeable. The idea of quitting your corporate job and mysteriously making a living while sleeping with a hot butcher is likeable. I’m down with escapism. I wanted it to happen. Please read this book through that lens.

About three chapters in I realized that this was a memoir. I was supposed to be reading this under the guise of “oh, I can do that with my life.” She even gives her money-saving tips at the end.

So can I? Can I Paris Letters my life up?

Janice’s Goals (AKA The Plot)
– Save/make $100 a day to support herself and quit her job. Tasks are enumerated in The List in the back of the book.
– Quit said job when she hits $30k and move to Europe.
– Fall in love and be utterly content, freed from her corporate hell.

She ends up saving $60k remarkably easy, which is the only number about her finances that is ever given. This book pushes the vagueness pretty hard in attempts to be more relatable. I was bummed about that. I love a girl that hustles, and this book minimizes how much work changing her life like this would have taken.

Can I live Janice’s Life?
There are 100 money tips in the back of the book. The person that previously owned this book dog eared the page for reference. Maybe they had to get rid of the book because they were moving to Europe? I hope they’re doing well.

70+ of the tips are to stop buying things and to sell what you don’t need. I’m crushing this. I’m not making a net gain of $100 a day from it. Lame.

Most of the other tips are basic financial literacy things. She paid off her credit card debt. She started dabbling in the stock market. I honestly think the reason she couldn’t immediately quit her job is because she had always lived a life that didn’t require having a handle on her finances. That’s not a cute love story, though.

There are a few things that I found useful. While she was planning her escape, she took 20 minutes a day to clean up her apartment. I’ve started doing 10 minutes a day. Not because I am actually planning to run off to Europe and find a hot butcher. My apartment just has too many things for the amount of space it is and needs some love after I spent five months working full time and taking classes.

She also journals, which I agree is immensely helpful in sorting out the thoughts in your head.

And then there are two things that are uncomfortable goals for me, but I’m going to make them. She puts a donate button up on her blog and sells some art. I’ll accept those two challenges. (There’s a Ko-Fi link in the sidebar if you’d like me to move to Paris.)

After I learn to properly paint and open an Etsy shop, I will come back and point out that it will take me over a decade to save the money that she did to move. This isn’t looking like a great plan.

Instead of faulting Janice for my inability to emulate her, I am going to point out that she has read Eat, Pray, Love and The Secret. Maybe my problem is that I just haven’t read enough of the privileged white woman self help books?

Which one should I try next? How many until I’m properly enlightened and free? Will the number of books that I’ve read directly correlate to how many years it takes for my Bachelor’s degree to start paying off? Stay tuned.

 

May 2018

May went by fast. The new job takes up a lot of my time, but it’s been going well.

I felt like I was neglecting my blog a little after last month, when I had some time off. Now I’ve gotten into a good groove with content creation on the weekends. Grumpy Skin is here to stay!

I can’t kick my watercolor habit, either.
Watercolor painting of flowers.
(If you like my watercolors, there will be an opportunity for you to get a hand-painted postcard soon! If you don’t like them, there’s still an opportunity. Just, you know, you wont care.)

ICYMI/Blog Stuff

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution + 5% EGCG Review
May 2018 Ipsy Bag
Aviary Attorney Review
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution Review

Cat @ Welcome to my Messy World tagged me in the 3 days, 3 quotes challenge. I dug through the memo app on my phone to see if I had saved any quotes recently and all I’ve got for you is a quote from Reveal (podcast): “You can get in more trouble for killing wildlife than you can for killing a worker”. I’m fun at parties.

I’ve also gotten a Bloglovin’ account. Give me a follow if you’re over there!
I signed up for Ko-Fi as well. There’s a donation button over on the right hand side of the blog if you’d like to fund a weird face mask.

Podcasts

20180513_183618-01.jpeg
I saw Roman Mars live for the THIRD TIME. Can’t stop, won’t stop. Criminal was there and they’re so lovely live. And Benjamen Walker! And Kurt Kohlstedt too! It was a great time.

It’s fitting that all of my favorite podcast listens this month are Radiotopia.

Liz Phair – Divorce Song by Song Exploder
Marking the start of my Liz Phair obsession.

Immobile Homes (Episode 307) by 99% Invisible
We need to talk about housing.

King’s Candy: A New Orleans Prison Kitchen Vision (Episode 29) by The Kitchen Sisters
Making candy in prison. Of course, there’s more going on in this story than that.

Books

Black Bolt Vol. 1 by Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward
I will read absolutely anything that Christian Ward does the art for. Look at this:

Black Bolt, his very large dog, and a child stand in front of a galaxy landscape. Text reads
Image from http://www.multiversitycomics.com/podcasts/comics-syllabus-028-on-black-bolt-by-saladin-ahmed-and-christian-ward-marvel-pull-call/

The story was also spot on, so it looks like I’ll read anything that Saladin Ahmed does now.

Paper Girls Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matt Wilson
The time travel is getting serious. Is it a spoiler that there is time travel? I started this series thinking that it was a cute story about girls on a paper route and THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS STORY IS.

Giant Days Vol 4. by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Max Sarin
Volumes 2 and 3 didn’t live up to the glory of the first for me. I’m glad I stuck with the series, because volume 4 is gold.
Image of Esther (v goth) hugging Susan and asking

Fruits Basket Vol 3. by Natsuki Takaya
I stopped reading Furuba before the translations made their way over to the US, so I’ve been going back and finishing it. Volume 3 was solid. I was surprised that it’s holding up so well. This means my middle school manga obsession is back in full swing. Rec me some stuff?

I’d ask a more general open ended question here for ~the engagement~, but really, I want manga recommendations.

April 2018

I did things and liked stuff this month!
The weather is warming up, I’ve been watercoloring (below), and I’m starting a new job.Watercolor painting of red flowers.

Spring is looking up.

ICYMI/Blog stuff

Okay, I’m finally done with The Ordinary
Sand & Sky Brilliant Skin Pink Clay Mask
Don’t Cover Yourself in Glitter and Run Into the Ocean
BLAQ Meteor Shower
April 2018 Ipsy Bag
DearPacker Gold Collagen Eye Mask
Earth Day Reflections

I made a Grumpy Skin twitter! Blogging twitter is actually the nicest twitter. I’m used to comics and science, which is pretty aggressive and not always woman-friendly. Give me a follow and tweet me weird skin stuff!

Awards: Teresa nominated me for a Sunshine Blogger Award and Mel nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award! I’m still not a fan of the question chains, but I do appreciate it.

I also changed my theme to be a little more minimalist. Let me know what you think!

Podcasts

Toxic tech in America by Reveal
The people manufacturing your electronics are dying.

Disposable workers in Asia by Reveal
Samsung in particular has had to compensate people and families for injury and death, but they’re far from the only one.

Lessons from Las Vegas (Episode 302) by 99% Invisible
Denise Scott Brown is fantastic. And some people don’t think Las Vegas is meticulously and purposefully designed?

Tesla and Beyond: Hidden Problems of Silicon Valley by Reveal

Cold Case (Episode 88) by Criminal
Literally a superhero origin story. CASUALLY CRACKING COLD CASES.

Thick Glass by Ear Hustle
Parenting in prison. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Books

GUYS I READ BOOKS THIS MONTH. It’s amazing what quitting your job can give you the time to do.

The Wicked + The Divine Volume 5 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Kevin Wada
Sakhmet from The Wicked + The Divine. Basically Rihanna with some cat aesthetics.
I had a few people ask me what I was reading when I was carrying this around, and it’s a hard one to casually explain. I’m pretty sure Rihanna ate some people in this one. Gods are reincarnated as pop stars and everything is so extra.

The Greatest of Marlys by Lynda Barry
Lynda Barry is a national treasure. This book is a series of shorts of a girl growing up in the 70s. A lot of the books I read as a kid took place in this same time period, so I had some bookworm nostalgia while reading this.

Maus by Art Spiegelman
A book about the Holocaust that was published the year I was born should not feel timely, but here we are in this hellscape of a year.

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

Cover of Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff.

I pre-ordered this book because Trump was mad about it. That’s the type of person that I am. I was excited to read a whole 300 pages that exist in the world solely to cause Trump distress. I can be petty.

This book was so disappointing.

Did you know Trump has the attention span and leadership skills of a four year old? Cool, me too. Do you want to hear that repeated for 300 pages with no in depth discussion about anything else? Yeah, me neither. I finished this book so you don’t have to.

The excerpts that were released beforehand are the best parts. If you read that and have a basic awareness of the last year, you have read this book.

My problems with it:

– The book was clearly rushed to publication without proper editing.

There’s a part in the earlier chapters talking about how Trump couldn’t possibly have colluded with Russia (because he’s too dumb) and that any ties were probably loose, shady business ones. We ‘find out’ later that yes, there were meetings with Russia. Everyone who has been conscious for any part of the last year knows this, so the earlier bit reads REALLY WEIRD. It’s not written well enough to come off as a linear telling of the story with a big Russia reveal.

The tone of the narration is all over the place. Some of it is from a passive observer, most of it is clearly loosely transcribed Steve Bannon. There was so much more of Steve Bannon’s voice and opinion than I have ever wanted.

– There’s nothing new in it.

I have not been following politics as much as I should be. I get my headlines on twitter, and then I get half of a sentence from Jake Tapper once a week before I put my headphones on to drown out the constant despair spiral.

I have apparently been keeping up with the minutia of the government. I learned nothing about the administration. I learned nothing about any of the constant big crises. I wasn’t even aware that I knew what everyone’s jobs were, but it turns out that I know better than the administration. Surprise.

– I don’t want to hear about how rational Ivanka and Jared are.

Complicit.

– It paints Trump as a harmless idiot.

Most of the book talks about how lol dumb Trump is with no discussion of the repercussions. People are being deported. People are losing their jobs. People are having their rights taken away. The Constitution is being shredded. We might find out if you can cause a nuclear winter on Twitter. THERE ARE ACTUAL NAZIS OPENLY ROAMING THE COUNTRY. But really, the book insists, Trump isn’t threatening and no one in the government knows what they’re doing, so no cause for concern.

It’s so bad I’m going to go full conspiracy on you and say that Trump’s puppet masters read this, saw how weak of a criticism it actually was, and decided to draw a lot of attention to it so that we thought these were our actual problems.

It was so mediocre.
I’m not going to tell you to not read it, because I refuse to have a common opinion with white supremacists, but it was a struggle to get through.

December 2017

What’s up, hangovers?
I’m assuming that’s you. I’m spending my second new year in a row convinced that I have the actual plague.

Good riddance to 2017. On to December’s list of neat stuff!

Media

The Good Place
I binged the whole first season on Netflix in one sitting. Kristen Bell accidentally gets into The Good Place when she dies and struggles to blend in.

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Okay, it wasn’t the most groundbreaking book. I skimmed a lot of it..with wine. Still, it was the most palatable white feminist book that I read this year. Worth a look.

Hamilton
We won lottery tickets for Hamilton and got to see it AGAIN FROM THE SECOND ROW. Have you heard that Hamilton is a good show? It’s a good show.

Roadtrip

We drove 1000 miles for the holidays and primarily ate fried food and took naps.

Food that is terrible for you but good for your happiness:
Fatz Cafe
They fry their poppy seed rolls like little donut holes. Menu still seems to be in an active transition, but as long as they have these rolls I will sit and eat an entire basket.

Sheetz
I thought that Sheetz was basically a southern 7-11 for a long time. I was wrong. I’m sorry. Endlessly customize-able fast food menu coffee menu. It’s good if you like your coffee to taste like candy..which I do.

Boiled Peanuts
My mom got me, like, a whole Wal Mart plastic bag of these at the flea market and I left them in her fridge. I am heartbroken. Both because I left my peanuts and because of how southern that sentence was.

Congaree National Park
Swampy image of some trees standing in water at Congaree National Park. The flood line on the trees is a good four feet above the current water line, so I suppose we were there for good weather.
It was too muddy to do anything but the boardwalk, but we saw some neat trees and will be back when it’s not so rainy.

November 2017

I was considering doing some cute end of year top 10 lists for 2017 but they’re all Hamilton. I saw Hamilton. It’s the best everything.

Books

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
I’ve read some reviews that claim The Handmaid’s Tale is making a hyperbole of the patriarchy. Those people are wrong. After reading this, I’m having stress dreams about my bank account and name disappearing.

Podcasts

Dollhouses of St Louis (Episode 283) by 99% Invisible
Have you ever seen re-purposed brick and wondered if it was ethically sourced? Now you will.

Secrets and Seances (Episode 79) by Criminal
Was anyone else obsessed with “true” ghost stories as a kid? This episode about a medium in the 1940’s scratched my grown up itch for the genre. Please click the link and look at what was considered believable photographic evidence of ghosts. Now wonder what things we’re going to be laughed at for believing in 60 years.

NYC

Hamilton
Hamilton is the most perfect piece of theater I have ever seen in my life. It is worth the money and the hype. I cried the whole time.

The Met
We spent our whole first day here. Pro tips: 1) Admission is a suggested price. Don’t pay $25 if you don’t have $25. 2) The Memory Palace recorded some really lovely episodes about some of their pieces. I recommend finding someone to run briskly walk through the storage space scavenger hunt with.

Trinity Church
I generally think that graveyards are a waste of space, but Eliza is in this one.
Eliza's grave at Trinity Church. It reads "Eliza daughter of Philip Schuyler widow of Alexander Hamilton born at Albany Aug. 9th 1757 died at Washington Nov. 9th 1854 interred here." People have left her pennies.
(And A. Ham, and Philip, and Angelica, and Hercules Mulligan. Worth a visit.)

September 2017

This post marks twelve months of blogging! That seems wrong, but my wordpress history doesn’t lie. I started this blog to force myself to write ideas out, even if they were just lists (like this one!) of things that I liked the past month. It’s been a good exercise. I’ve branched my posts out to include pop culture commentary and weird skincare reviews. I’ve also started keeping a personal journal for the first time in close to a decade.

10/10 Do recommend blogging. Let’s see what the next year brings.

Books

Cover of Uprooted by Naomi Novik.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
I’m not usually here for love stories between an old, emotionally unavailable man and a young woman BUT apparently I AM if you throw in magic and evil woods.
Take notes if you’re tying to get me to ignore my feminism for a little bit, I guess.

Cover of Volume 5 of Ms. Marvel.
Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Adrian Alphona, and Nico Leon
Volume 5 and going strong! I’m also not one for weddings, but there’s a good one in here.

Cover of Volume 2 of Bitch Planet.
Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro
Before volume two, my usual summary of Bitch Planet is “what you wanted Orange is the New Black to be, but in space”. This comic so much more than that.

Podcasts

Unwritten and Left Behind by Ear Hustle
Ear Hustle is still killing it. Unwritten tackles rules regarding race in prison. Left Behind discusses how people, particularly those who did not commit a violent crime, deal with life sentences.

Coal Hogs Work Safe (Episode 275) by 99% Invisible
I also love stickers. Maybe I’d make a great coal miner? We’ll never know.

Sawbones by Sydnee and Justin McElroy
Weird old-timey medical stories! Perfect for October!
I’m not listing specific episodes because I’ve listened to about twenty this month. They’re all equally good. I wonder how many episodes I’ll have to listen to before they cover something I haven’t hit in my weird, late night googling.

Lorde – Sober by Song Exploder
I need a miniseries that covers all of Melodrama. It’s such a good album and she put so much thought into it. This Song Exploder episode is perfect.