Six things I loved in January

Fleabag

I didn’t know much about Fleabag before watching it in one greedy gulp on an exhausted Saturday afternoon. Phoebe Waller-Bridge writes, directs and stars in a strange comic story of grief, friendship and sex. It has the same “knowing laugh followed by twinge of pain” vibe as Girls. It manages to be bleak, but without being maudlin, and knowing without being preachy. It’s also deliciously weird. With just six 30 minute episodes, it’s low commitment and has been rattling around in the head for weeks. Read Emily’s review for more.

My Keep Cup

What I wanted from an office mug was perhaps a little unreasonable. I want: a big cup, with a handle so the hot water wouldn’t burn my fingers and a lid so I wouldn’t spill it. And I didn’t want to spend too much or have it be unnecessarily fancy. Enter: KeepCup, with a cork band to protect my fingers from the heat. I’ve had it for a few weeks and it’s made the whole drinking tea in the office experience much nicer. These are the things I really love to buy - small things that make a big difference to small, daily rituals. One deliberate purchase rather than lots of crappy ones.

Unravelling

Every year, blogger Susannah Conway creates a workbook for reflecting on the previous year and planning for the next one. It’s a much gentler and more holistic process than setting arduous, unrealistic January resolutions that gives as much weight to reflection as it does to planning. And you know the school girl in me loves a good workbook. At the end of another tough year, it was difficult to reflect but the act of doing it brought some of the smaller victories to the surface, the little triumphs that I plan to build on in 2017. Its like a few hours with my journal guided by a a compassionate friend.

The Affair

I love a good emotionally dense story and the central conceit of The Affair (offering differing perspectives on the same events by both people) intrigued me. I re-watched the first two seasons, enjoying how the intricacy of the story deftly unfolded. They got the pacing just right. The performances are fantastic too: Maura Wilson as the self-involved wife and Josh Jackson as the “good guy” husband. (I’ve never stopped seeing him as Pacey and who could ever leave Pacey?!) But it’s Ruth Wilson’s depiction of Alison, a grieving mother played with a balance of wounded bird and flighty femme fatale, that really gets me. This is raw grief on screen.

Season 3, I’m not sure… Noah’s endless self-importance has finally started to weigh the thing down, and that’s not helped by some of the very problematic things he’s been saying about rape. Seasons one and two, though, are definitely worth your time.

The Dolly Letter

One of my favourite things about the internet is discovering a new writer you love. Dolly Alderton, and her fabulous newsletter, is my current fave. I found her via this post on Cup of Jo, and promptly saved all her past newsletters to Instapaper and devoured them in one big chunk. They’re very meaty newsletters with two long written pieces (one from Dolly, one from a guest) a list of links, a recipe, shopping suggestions and a playlist.

I love newsletters. They capture so much of what I like about internet writing: following a smart brain at work, watching one individual curate ideas, aesthetics and arguments over time, listening to a distinct voice unfold on the page. And I’ve been meaning to add more UK voices to my reading diet, so this was a timely discovery. (Why yes, I also have a newsletter. You can sign up in the sidebar.)

Digital decluttering

While trying to get myself back in the swing of things after a lazy Christmas break, I did some busy work tidying out my digital files. And boy did they need it - I found all kinds of random crap from as far back as 2006. A time, pre-broadband I think, when I frequently saved whole articles to my computer, lest I not be able to access them immediately.

I emptied it all out: itunes, photos, videos, hard drives… Everything got scrubbed, tidied, backed up, deleted and organised. I cleared a ton of space on my computer which I fear is close to it’s final days, and more than that have the relief of mental space. Possibly the nerdiest recommendation ever, but there you go. White space is glorious.

P.S. Check out more recommendations (many less nerdy than that) over here.