Mario Party

Please praise my DIY children's birthday party planning skills

Hey folks!

Happy almost Halloween! Normally I go all out for this holiday and make a costume (sometimes more than one) but this year I was sidetracked by planning a Super Mario-themed birthday for a child and wowww am I fine with skipping Halloween this year as a result. 

Chuck and I started dating in August last year but I didn’t meet his son until almost three months later (understandably!) when we agreed we were probably in it for the long-ish haul. That meant I met his kid mere days before he turned 5, and his fifth birthday party was my introduction to Chuck’s entire family. The day of, his three sisters and their collective ELEVEN CHILDREN burst through the door with a dozen other relatives. I remember having to take a lil’ break and sat on Chuck’s bed for like 10 minutes staring at my Twitter on phone.

All I wanted was for Chuck’s kid to like me. I am never around kids who aren’t my two (angelic! perfect in every way!) nieces, so I had zero tiny boy child experience. But it turned out Chuck’s son is the most easy-going, tantrum-free kid who was predisposed to like me, for unknown reasons. He still asks Chuck every day when he picks him up from school if I am going to be home when they get there. And this year, I had a WAY stronger handle on what to get him for his gifts than I did last year when we had just met. I don’t even remember what generic BS I got him last year.

I had more creative control this time around, and through this experience I have learned children are MONSTERS when they are the center of attention and are maybe allowed one too many gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins on their special day. Now I am pretty sure I have PTSD from the stress of being around all those popped helium balloons. (I AM NEVER BUYING BALLOONS AGAIN and also, hot tip, kids are really into slime right now but do not buy into it if you have carpet in your place.)

Still, at the same time, that kid had the best day and was so cute and gracious with unwrapping his gifts and thanking folks. Chuck’s mom added me to the family birthdays spreadsheet which was incredibly sweet (and helpful to have a copy of because, again, 11 nieces and nephews). Plus, in addition to Chuck’s family being there, *my* family was too, and it made my stupid heart twinge watching them all talk and get along so well. My dad and brother treat Chuck’s son like he is my son too and omg you’re probably wondering, is this a mom blog now?? No but just gimme this indulgence for a sec!! 

Enough about that – Let’s move on to the matter at hand:

What I’ve Been Making for the Internet

  • A zine about hair! Thanks so much to all of you who emailed to ask for a PDF of Curly, the 14-page zine I made earlier this month out of old photos, scrapbook paper, and glue stick. You know what’s funny is that I went to get a haircut last week and I *thought* about telling my stylist about it because who would better appreciate art about hair?? But then again my stylist is an ultra cool 23-year-old with whom I only recently got some cred thanks to my Washington Post byline and now I am terrified of losing it!! Anyway, if you missed Curly last time, you can still get it. Just respond to this email or tweet at me.

  • The final episode of Head Over Heels, the GLOW podcast I do with Harmony Cox, has aired (at least until the fourth and final season of GLOW happens)! Huge thanks to special guest Scarlett Harris for closing out this season with us in our closing episode.

  • IRL: I have two more roller derby games this season, and the last one is a home game! If you’re in or near the Mid Ohio Valley, come see Hades Ladies play November 9. (Also, it is entirely possible that this will be the last game ever for my league because we are maybe kinda possibly on the brink of extinction, eeeek.)

What I’ve Been Reading

  • This Atlantic article about why we never see our friends anymore is kiiiind of a gut punch! We are all TOO BUSY and our social lives are suffering for it. This reminded me of an essay Jia Tolentino wrote in Trick Mirror, called “Always Be Optimizing.” We, and especially women, are expected to be as productive as possible in every aspect of our lives and it’s exhausting. I consider myself very fortunate that my day job allows for a good work-life balance but I feel for a lot of my peers who aren’t so lucky. Also, from this article, Amazon sounds like a terrible place to work. (Hat tip to Alex Bean who shared this on social media.)

  • So many of you sent me this lovely Saeed Jones newsletter about the writer’s love for his new city of Columbus, Ohio! Thank you! I heard Saeed on a Death, Sex, & Money the other day and I’m a big fan now.  

  • Are you going to read Ronan Farrow’s book about his Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting about Harvey Weinstein? I’ve been following his press tour all month and I can’t wait. The book comes out tomorrow. 

  • So while I am watching Watchmen on HBO, I don’t know if I will keep going because it is bleak AF and bums me out. But! Vulture gave me a sorely-needed education about the fact that the Tulsa massacre depicted in the pilot WAS A REAL THING and American history just glosses right over it. Take a second to read about the 48-hour destruction of Black Wall Street in Oklahoma in 1921.

What I Loved This Week

  • These pictures of Ted Danson grinning as he was arrested in D.C. for his presence at a climate change protest made my day. And good for Jane Fonda, who plans to protest every Friday until January! 

  • As the owner of a pug, I loved this McSweeney’s piece about how pugs, once descended from wolves, have become the big round, meatball-obsessed softies we know and love today.

  • I watched the first six episodes of Modern Love, the Amazon Prime original inspired by the long-running New York Times personal essay column. The best one IMO is the Tina Fey/John Slattery one, and the worst is the creepy sixth episode about the 21-year-old woman who starts spending a little too much time with the middle-aged boss at her office. Hahaha NO THANK YOU, it is 2019 and I don’t need additional creepy behavior in my life! So anyway, watch the first few but maybe stop once Tina and John step offscreen. Meanwhile, in case you need a reminder, here’s how to submit your own Modern Love essay. They’ve turned down my two submissions, but I wish you better luck! (PS, they also have a newer column called Unhitched, about divorce.)

  • Want to support Chicago Public Schools as their strike continues? My friend Becky Bean is a teacher for CPS and here is a Donors Choose page for the cool things she’s doing in her classroom and for the drama club she leads

  • The first half of the final season of BoJack Horseman dropped Friday! I loved the beauty and optimism of episode 7 but then the final one of the batch, episode 8, filled me with dread over what’s to come. But I think they are doing some great storytelling this season as they wrap things up. 

~Writing Stuff~

Okay, that’s all for this installment! Hit reply if you like this newsletter and I’ll write you back. Or, hit forward if you’ve got a buddy you think would be into it. Later, folks!

About me: I wrote a collection of essays about love, loss, and roller derby. Buy a mini version of it for less than five bucks. I’m currently based in the Mid Ohio Valley after having lived in Chicago and Portland for a few years. Follow me on Instagram (@merylkwilliams) and Twitter (@MerylWilliams) for social media posts about roller derby burnout, freelancer pet peeves, and how Chuck won’t stop leaving a 98 cent Jason mask in unexpected places all over our house for me to find.

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