Friday, February 12, 2016

Sex and the single girl (#TheONLYSecretToSuccess)

The ONLY Secret to Success
By Erika Abdelatif for love, -j.

Look. I know it’s February. 

I’ve seen the candy hearts. I’ve been harassed by 1-800-FLOWERS commercials. I’ve read all of the click-bait articles promising the secrets to a powerhouse relationship. (Trust me. I’m not kidding when I say all of them.) I fully plan to sneak tiny bottles of Chardonnay into a screening of How to Be Single, even if I have to go alone. Valentine’s Day is my porn, and I’m reveling in all of it.

But I won’t succumb to writing an article about singleness. No. Not this year. I won’t do it.

Instead, I want to talk about success. Because, even when climate change kills off all the people and relationships are a thing of the past, you’ll still have dreams. You’ll still be wondering how to achieve them.

You’ll still be wondering if you’re good enough. You’re still be wondering if you can create anything worthwhile. You’ll still be wondering if it’s time to throw in the towel. And, if the climate change scenario becomes reality, you’ll have to be your own cheerleader.

So, remember this: Nobody knows what they f*** they’re doing. No one.

I don’t know if any single thought is quite so terrifying and empowering.

Pretty regularly, when I sit down to scrape through conquer a new project, I waste a lot of time trash talking myself. My internal dialogue sounds something like this:

Why bother? No one is going to care!
I can’t do this. I don’t know how. Everyone will know I’m full of sh*t.
I should probably read ten billion articles and get a Masters degree in this subject first.
Wow, pizza sounds good right now. This project is fleeting, but pizza is eternal. I should make some.

(Who am I kidding? I’ve never made a pizza! It’s Domino’s delivery EVERY. TIME.)

I know I’m not alone in this. I recently workshopped a friend’s article. When I finished, she looked flush and discouraged. I wasn’t trying to discourage her. I was trying to pitch notes to strengthen it. But, when I asked what was wrong, she responded: I just don’t know how to do that.

Well, no kidding! If any of us knew how to do a thing right the first time, we’d have already done it. We’re all learning. Unfortunately, part of learning is the sticky, scary experience of trying.

You have to try something before you know how to do something. I’m sorry to say, there are no shortcuts. It’s all just trying, and digging, and sweating.

But that’s actually good news, even if it’s scary. It’s good news because it means you really can do anything. You just have to start.

What are you waiting for? Domino’s will come to you while you’re hard at work.

Illustration via Cliparts.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

CWRU School of Law, 10:56am

Juliet Kostritsky comes alive in the classroom. 

No wonder students at Case Western Reserve University's School of Law voted her Favorite Professor six different times and bestowed upon her the Teacher of the Year Award in 2015. And the admiration is mutual. 

"They inspire me with their passion," Kostritsky says of her students. "They are amazing both by their desire to learn something new and by their kindness to others."

Perhaps what makes Kostritsky's teaching style so dynamic is her willingness to be surprised, even after 32 years in the classroom. Because law is about so much more than learning rules, she says. "How can we know what rule is best until we know how people will respond to those rules?" she asks. "In deciding what the law is, you have to have an understanding of human behavior. It is that fundamental."   

Who: Juliet Kostritsky 
What: First-year course on contract law
Where: Case Western Reserve University School of Law
What makes a teacher "good?": "This question is a provocative one. There is no one way to be a good teacher but the best ones I've had [when I was a student] had a passion for the subject. I remember a poetry teacher who was a quiet speaker but his passion for Yeats, Synge and James Joyce was so palpable. 

The best teachers care deeply about the students and want them to learn the subject but also be inspired by it. The best teachers do not lecture. They welcome and carry on an interactive dialogue with their students. I love it when students come up with answers that I have not even thought about. That is wonderful and it makes me smile." 

This is Cleveland.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Home clothes

Do you have an item of clothing you wear at home all the time?

I have been wearing this plaid shirt almost EVERY DAY for the past two weeks. It's what happens when you work from home. I think fondly of those days when I worked in an office. Putting on the war paint and fabulous outfit, feeling ready to conquer the world. 

After a fulfilling day at work, I looked forward to my Mister Rogers Comes Home Moment. Remember when Fred Rogers would sing that cute tune, change out of his jacket and Oxfords and slip into something more comfortable -- which was usually a cardigan and pair of canvas sneakers? That was my reward at the end of the day. Kicking off my heels and changing into my slippers and favorite pair of comfy pants.

Admittedly, it's hard to feel like you're slaying when you're wearing pajamas or sweat pants or the same flannel button down every single day. I recently read about the concept of "home clothes" on one of my favorite blogs which got me thinking about articles of clothing you would might not want to be spotted in. Though I really like this flannel shirt I'm starting to think people might notice I wear it all the time. 

It's becoming my uniform.      

The definition of sexy.


Meanwhile... Outside my bedroom window.

Winter survival guide.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ladies, now let's get in formation

Queen Bey is slaying the Internet with her newest single, "Formation."

The video, released the day before the Super Bowl, with zero promotion and without fanfare (in signature Beyonce style), is a visual anthem referencing everything from Hurricane Katrina and the Black Lives Matter movement to Beyonce's roots and the black South to high fashion and becoming "the next Bill Gates."

I've watched the video about a dozen times (completely obsessed) and I keep coming back to the same ideas: freedom, resistance, empowerment, feminism, heritage, identity and general badassery. The fashion (Gucci! Fendi! Chanel!), the little boy defiantly dancing before the riot police (moving), the nod to the trans and queer community (visually and vocally, "I did not come to play with you hoes, I came to slay, bitch!").

Fierce, ambitious, unapologetic.

And the poetry is so on-point: 

I came to slay
I see it, I want it...
I dream it, I work hard

I'll grind 'til I own it...
Sometimes I go off, 
I go hard
Get what's mine, take what's mine
I'm a star
Cause I slay...
Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper. 

Young, gifted and black. (The Cut)
Beyonce and Bruno Mars at the Super Bowl.