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Welcome! To the seventh installation of Aoife Mail; my monthly newsletter full of news stories (aptly enough), pop culture and my suggestions and recommendations for you. 

Yikes. Had I predicted what a bleak beginning 2020 would offer us, I think I would have happily diddly-daddled a little longer in the doomed decade of the 10's...

...but here we are - you get what you give and all that. 

If any of you, like me, are sick to death of thinking, talking, reading and worrying about the coronavirus, then you're in luck - because that word is from here out banned from this newsletter, or at the very least, this month's edition. 

With many scary unknowns ahead, how about we just forget about them for a little second and focus on the good, the interesting and the entertaining. 

A little note on the beauty of pottering... 

I promised some c-free content, but it is a rather commandeering aspect of our current life, and it generally over-shadows every thought, goal, plan or conversation. 

But I will simply begin by alluding to the fact that we’re all spending an increasing amount of time at home. 

While it’s both a blessing - staying in your pajamas, working from home, uncapped cups of tea - and a curse - restrictions, isolation, and anxieties; it is ultimately, a new normality we have to embrace for the foreseeable. 

It’s ironic, that a generation famed for canceling plans and making Netflix & Chill the new night out, is having such a problem with staying within the confinements of their home.

Yet, we’ve reached a point where we’re all bucking up and settling into our new selves. Our new stay-at-home-selves

While we busy ourselves with neglected tasks, aspiring projects, and Netflix binges, it’s important to take a breath, and simply chill the fuck out. Something we, as a generation and a society, seem to be unable to do.

It was by doing this, that I discovered the lost art of pottering. Simply, pottering about the place. God, it’s a dying activity. With endless feeds to scroll through and mountains of content to read or watch or listen to, pottering feels like a self-sabotaging timewaster.

And yet, the very definition of pottering is desirable and frankly, essential -  

potter (verb)

To occupy oneself in a desultory but pleasant way.
"I'm quite happy just to potter about by myself here"


With bountiful options and limitless choice, it’s no wonder we’re all consumed with anxiety- the philosopher Kierkegaard once mused; “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom to chose”. And dizziness it is. 

Whenever we choose something - be it a book, a tv show, a bar, a restaurant - we are always painfully aware of all the other potential options we have foregone.

Will this TV show be the most gripping? Will this restaurant give me food poisoning? Will I regret choosing this book?

And now, with time only to be spent at home - we’re stuck between procrastinating from what we should do,  unable to decide what we want to do and unsure what we will do and three hours later we’re still watching videos of penguins jumping down the stairs

So, Stop. Potter. Put on a jazzy playlist - don’t spend hours choosing, just put on your go-to jam or play a podcast - anything will do.

Lose yourself in your thoughts. Make a cup of tea. Reorganize your wardrobe. Eat peanut butter out of the jar standing in the kitchen. Dance. Water your plants. Doodle. Clean your mirrors. Light a candle. Change your sheets or simply make your bed.

Enter autopilot and see where your mind takes you - as long as that isn’t scrolling through your phone. Remember: Occupy yourself desultorily, but pleasantly.

Ding Dong the Witch Monster is Dead
A sigh of relief was heaved when Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of one count of rape and one of sexual assault. 
The 67-year old was banished to the "Guatemala" prison of New York immediately, and for the first time since the trial began, he was seen leaving his verdict without his walker. Hmm. Weinstein has since been sentenced to 23 years in prison, a victory that warns other depraved, powerful men that their time is up. 

Bye Bye Pollution
Thanks to you-know-what, pollution has dropped dramatically in areas of China and Italy following factory shutdowns and quarantining. China, which is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has dropped their levels of pollution by about 30%. Following worldwide flight restrictions, it's likely that we will see further declines in pollution. Though not under ideal circumstances, according to experts even a minor drop in emissions can have huge benefits.

Can Jacinda Do Wrong? 
Until this week, abortion in New Zealand was legal in the case of a severe threat to life for the fetus or the woman, physically or mentally. But now, abortion has finally been de-criminalized. A country that's been a long-time vanguard for women's rights, it's surprising that it's taken this long to reframe this decision as a woman's choice, and right. 

Car-less and Careful
More good news for the planet as Utrecht, the forward-thinking Dutch city, has created a car-free district for a population of 12,000 people. The Architect behind the project, Marco Broekman, said the philosophy is that "it should be easier to get a bike than it should be to get a car."

This Month I'm... 
...Watching: Noughts and Crosses
A teenage dream came true earlier this month when the BBC aired their adaption of the YA noughts and crosses novel series. Is it still as good as I remember it? Yes, and even eerier than I could have imagined. Set in Albion (the UK), 700 years after Africa has colonized Europe, it re-tells a  history in which racism divides society severely, but in this story, white people (noughts) are subordinate to the black ruling class (crosses). It deals with themes and injustices we're painfully familiar with today, police brutality, extremism, and prejudice, but twists the knife in the other direction. Oh, and Stormzy is in it. 
...Listening to: So You've Been Publically Shamed
Audio-books weren't for me, until they were. The journalist Jon Ronson has both an engaging and soothing voice and I wish he could narrate every audiobook. After witnessing cancel-culture and online group shaming, Ronson investigates and interviews the previously shamed on the internet to find out how their lives have been post-shaming as he tries to decipher whether they, in fact, deserved the shaming. He cleverly highlights the dangers of key-board warriors, groupthink, and the "them vs us" paradigm.
...Eating: Anchovy & Shallot-y pasta. 
Sorry Veggies and Vegans - this one's for the pescatarians and omnivores. Feel free to try it without anchovies, but I'm not sure it will be the same. And for those spooked out by anchovies - don't be. They add a beautiful salty depth to food and they dissolve anyway. Fry loads of garlic and 5 shallots in a generous amount of olive oil and salt for 15 minutes. Add anchovies and fry until they dissolve, then add a couple of tablespoons of tomato puree and a dash of passata. Some chili flakes, sriracha sauce, and more seasoning will not go astray. Cook pasta as per pack (Tagletelli is good here) and even add some pasta water to the tomato mixture. Drain and stir into the mixture with a handful or two of parsley. 
...Reading: Such A Fun Age
The sign of a good book is when you gobble it up in a matter of days and feel empty and desolate when it ends which is exactly what this book did. The protagonist is a black babysitter, Emira, who works for an affluential white family and it uses this backdrop to explore racism, anti-racism and class inequality in America the year before the 2016 election. On top of these layered themes are the overwhelming existential anxieties felt by the protagonist during her quarter-life crisis, and her saturating career and money woes - problems we can all relate too.   
Writing About: 
I'm in the process of launching a Medium publication called Get It? Where I pick a topic I'm slowly understanding and write about it. This week I wrote about surviving lockdown
I also wrote a little blog about overcoming coronavirus anxiety and also uncertainties

And here are some book recommendations... and some more here. 
The Rest 
This satirical New Yorker Piece about the effects of Climate Change was surprisingly refreshingly funny and nuanced.

I loved this wholesome interview with Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat cookbook author Samin Nosrot. If you haven't already seen the Netflix series, watch it now

I enjoyed reconfirming my health suspicions with this Guardian piece on living to be 100 years old. 

Vietnam released quite the catchy tune about handwashing to combat the coronavirus, and it's a must-watch

Don't forget to check out my February/March Best Podcast Episode Playlist here.

Netflix has a chrome extension for you to have self-isolated movie nights with your pals. 

Hulu's adaption of the book High Fidelity stars Zoe Kravitz as the protagonist, it's funky, colorful and original. 

Though I've been pretty disappointed with The Guardians reporting of you-know-what, with their panic-inducing articles and fearmongering clickbait, they have created this happiness thread, which is rather nice. 

If you have two hours to kill (which you probably do) this in-depth, expert interview podcast episode about anxiety was truly eye-opening. They discuss all the psychological, biological and external influences on anxiety, and how to tackle them. 
That's all for this month, pals. 

And I know this has seemed more of an every-other-month newsletter this year, but I promise I'll be back in April with some more c-free content. 

On that note, stay safe. Wash your hands, stay at home, isolate if you are sick - you know the drill. 

Just remember, that these times will pass, and I'll see you all on the flip side, with a beer in one hand and a gin in the other - and we'll hug and we'll eat together and we'll laugh and hopefully our hands won't be permanently cracked and dry from the obsessive washing.

This day will come, but until then, stay safe, and more importantly; stay sane

Lots of love and kisses; 

Aoife x
One Broke Gal 
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One Broke Gal · Madrid, Spain · Madrid, Madrid 28012 · Spain

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