Design

Have a Cozy Weekend.

Gingerbread Cookies by Yossi Arefi

What are you up to this weekend? Tonight we are having our Cup of Jo holiday party with games, pizza and cookies at our apartment, and tomorrow we’re taking the boys to see these crazy Christmas lights. Hope you have a good one — stay warm! — and here are a few fun links from around the web…

Toby and Anton are in the New York Times!

These owls made me laugh out loud.

Seven things every kid needs to hear.

How cool is this countdown to summer? Also, this funny gift tape.

Black women kept Roy Moore out of office. Here’s how to actually thank them.

Maybe the cutest study in history: Young children believe that birthday parties cause aging (and not the other way around).

Love this pretty party look and these amazing earrings.

Have you read the viral short story Cat Person?

Pro tip: Al dente pasta is actually overcooked.

How to stay happy in the winter.

Finally, thank you to Sonnet James — beloved for their playful dresses — for offering Cup of Jo readers 20% off with code 20cupofjo.

Plus, an amazing reader comment:

Says Meghan on gifts for impossible-to-shop-for people: “The best gift I ever got was a handmade card from a ninth-grade student. Earlier in the year, some girls asked me if I knew who this boy liked. He had admitted to having a crush, but remained tight-lipped over the identity. I looked up at this boy, surrounded by girls who were all hoping they were the object of his affection, and was struck by the expression on his face. I strive to use gender-neutral language as much as possible, so I said, ‘If he wants to tell me about who he likes, then I’m happy to hear it. All I know is that whoever he likes is a very lucky person.’ A couple days later, I got a Christmas card from him. Inside was a piece of paper that had been folded up so small that I almost missed it. In the center, written in tiny writing, were the words, ‘I like a boy. Thanks for listening.’ I later found out that I was the second person he told, even before his twin brother. I keep the note at home to remind myself that even the smallest acts can make the biggest difference.”

(Photo by Yossi Arefi. Birthday study via Kottke.)

  1. Jo says...

    I read The New York Times article, and definitely appreciated the message Alex was trying to send. But please, why is he so dismissive towards actors and artists? Every time he mentions anything in the arts he adds on something like “burger flipping” or Uber drivers. I’ve met plenty of Uber/lyft drivers who have both successful and struggling careers working in many different fields. As an actor myself, I do have to find other work to help pay my rent check. However the money I make as an actor is a significant part of my income, and when I’m not working as an actor I’m working in one of the largest and most successful companies in the world, and proud of it too. The fact that many artists continue on as artists is, in my opinion, something to be appreciated. They are doing something they love and feel called to do. I would think that as a parent that would not be dismissed. And, let’s be honest: art is art because of the way we as humans are able to connect with other humans. It is all about human emotion. I would think (and hope too, I suppose) that artists would be the last ones to lose there jobs to any robot.

  2. Jac says...

    I read that reader comment and it made me cry! How wonderful that she is the kind of adult/person he felt safe sharing his secret with.
    <3 I love that story.

    • Mrs D says...

      Same! Same! SAME!

  3. Kerri says...

    I just have to say that I read Alex’s article right before bed and as I turned off my phone and pulled the covers up I thought to myself, “Yup. I’m definitely going to be having nightmares about evil robots.” Sure enough… ?

  4. I read ‘Cat Person’ on a fluke. I was on the New Yorker for something else and it was on the sidebar. I had no idea. I thought about blogging about it, but I don’t want to blog as a rant or shove my negative opinions/feelings out into the world. All I can say is that I thought the story was repulsive, both on a literary level and just on a social level. I know that’s harsh. I realize people really connected with that story. I suppose I’m in the minority on this one; perhaps growing up in Texas just gave me a totally different view on dating. I’ll say this: it’s got tongues wagging, which is always a good thing when it comes to writing, regardless of whether or not we all love it.

  5. Marina says...

    On cutest study in history – I totally confirm the results. Our daughter (now 10) used to believe she turned certain age only after she had blown the candles on her birthday cake. We never even tried to deny it, it was too cute.

  6. Julie says...

    Meghan’s comment made me so happy. What a gift to that student!

    Cat Person truly captured that early relationship dance and the awful feeling if things are just not right. Thanks for sharing so many great things this week.

  7. Nancey says...

    Cat Person was so intriguing and wonderful in so many ways. I just read it twice, my heart broke and so many emotions from that story.

  8. Rachel says...

    Meghan’s story is so heartwarming. Good teachers like her have such and incredible impact on students!

  9. Erin says...

    I thought the article your husband wrote for the NYT was really interesting. It made me think of “The Adaptable Mind” – have you seen this 11 minute video? I have discussed it with my middle school students, and it has really inspired me to focus on my student’s curiosity, creativity, and empathy.
    https://vimeo.com/133190364

  10. Alex says...

    Jo – I work in the lighting industry and though I think its great you’ve found something that works for you in terms the winter blues, I feel cautious about this one. The technical specifications the manufacturer has listed are flat out incorrect, “emits 5000 Lux”. Light emission is not measured in LUX, it is measured in Lumens. LUX is a measurement for incidental light on a surface. And the 26 watt CFL source included, at 5000K, would emit more like 1500 or 1700 lumens. Anyway – no studies that i know of have concluded it unsafe to look at a diffused CFL bulb from at least a foot or two away for a short period of time. But it always makes me nervous when the manufacturer of product is provided false specifications.
    Okay, nerd rant over.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you, alex! going to look into this.

  11. All over goosebumps from Meghan’s heart-warming comment :-)

  12. That comment from Meghan made me tear up. BRAVO. More people like her please ?

  13. katie says...

    best reader comment yet!!

  14. Sarah says...

    Your work is so important Meghan! Thank you for sharing that heartwarming Christmas story.

  15. Cait says...

    This blog is one of my favorite things I read, mainly because it opens my eyes to so many things. The movie, TV, and book recs, the introduction to brands like Sezane, the questions posed and the awesome comments – it really is a daily source of awesome things. So thank you all for the work you do to keep it going :)

  16. Sara says...

    Meaghan – thank you for sharing that. You are an incredible teacher, and your story just really hit home about the amazing difference a wonderful teacher can have. I have two kids (both 12), one is queer – and I hope they both have at least once a teacher like you.

  17. Alyssa says...

    The Cat Person article was interesting and creepy and chilling. Because it reminded me of dates I’ve been on. In varied ways. Not always the intense “sleeping together” thing, but sometimes just in the “how can I not be here right now” way.

    Glad to know that other commenters have gone through it too. Nice to know we’re not alone.

    • Gabrielle Montane says...

      Is it nice to know we aren’t alone in this, though? This man in the story shows many signs of being abusive. The red flags were all there, and the fact that the girl just went along with it because she really felt she had no choice just shows how far we need to come in recognizing the dangers and educating young women how to see these signs and say no. When your intuition says RUN, then it is most definitely saying that for a reason. Too many women go along with what happens because they are afraid of what the other person might do. This man totally ignored getting to know her, treated her like a thing and possession, put down her preferences, got way too serious about the relationship very early on, and then borderline stalked her. Yes, we are not ever alone in our experiences, but it is really sad that this is seen as normal behavior.

  18. Katherine says...

    Wonderful round up this week! Lots of mind candy. Also, the seven things that kids need to hear are things adults need to hear, too. Every human deserves those things, regardless of age!

  19. Lorraine says...

    The Cat Person story was so freakishly accurate in reflecting how I’ve felt at various times. It’s that moment when you cross over into revulsion and you can never look at the person the same way again–and you could never explain to them what happened because it would destroy their self-esteem. Revisiting those feelings made me squirm!!

  20. Laura C. says...

    I loved Meghan’s comment whe I read it in the post. I thought about it and if I ever could be that wise.
    And, let me say it, the lack of f*cks the other two owls don’t give has made my day.

  21. aga says...

    I can vet for the Happy Light! A few minutes a day makes such a difference during the darker months. (Although the key is a few minutes and earlier in the day. I made the mistake of working with it late into the afternoon, lost track of time, and before I knew it, it was 9pm and i was WIRED. It has also come in handy when I’ve had to pull an all nighter at my desk. Horrible to do that to the body, but it’s a testament to the fact that it works!).

  22. Cassie says...

    Can we have an essay written by Meghan? Beautiful comment.

  23. Em says...

    Love Meghan’s comment–so sweet, and what a great teacher she must be.

  24. SophieA says...

    I love insights into the minds of little ones! When my youngest turned three, I said excitedly to her that morning “Yay, you’re three!” To which she replied “No, I haven’t eaten any birthday cake yet”. Fair call.

  25. AzureSong says...

    Regarding your hubby’s AI article, I say good riddance to document review by lawyers. Only very junior lawyers do it; we’re all happy when we get senior enough to never have to do it again!

  26. Eliza says...

    I just read Alex’s NYT article/interview with your kids! My job isn’t fun or fancy but it’s definitely being taken over by “robots”. I’m training to become a nurse (hopefully that will last for at least long enough for me to retire) after my job as a medical transcriptionist has become almost obsolete thanks to voice recognition software (that has the capability of learning/improving with experience). It’s something I definitely worry about!!

  27. Erin says...

    Thanks for including the link about how to thank Black women ??

  28. That comment brought tears to my eyes. We need more people like Meghan in this world.

    I may need that countdown to summer calendar for myself… Come February in the Pacific Northwest, the misery sets in.

  29. Alexandra says...

    Cat Person (and the assorted thinkpieces that sprung up around it) took over my entire week. When I first read it, I almost didn’t send it to any of my friends because I didn’t think it could possibly resonate with anyone the way it did with me. I actually was afraid my lovely, caring, warm friends would think me strange for having shared so many of Margot’s thoughts and feelings. Fortunately I overcame it and have had some of the most open and thought-provoking conversations with them as a result.

    My youngest sister is 20 and has been sexually active for a year, and yet even she could relate to this story—which just tells me how pervasive it is. She shared with her friends and opened up a dialogue with them. I’m so glad that, at age 20, they are getting a head start on opening up these conversations and, hopefully, changing the way they consider themselves and their interactions with sexual partners…a conversation that took me until almost 30 to have with my peers!

  30. Jill says...

    That article Alex wrote is hysterical and omg, probably true (lets hope not)! My 13-year-old daughter Chloe has been wanting to be a nurse since 3rd grade. And I have been very supportive and proud of her choice. (of course I realize she can change her mind) Maybe they can find a robot to take vital signs, dispense meds, take blood, give shots, read charts etc. BUT Chloe is so caring, sweet and empathetic, and I know that no robot could ever replace this type of bedside manner.

  31. Anne says...

    Such a sweet teacher comment.

    Dude, that Cat Person Essay has me shook. There was an actual moment when she described him that had me thinking, “Is Robert’s real name Michael?” based on an experience I had.

    • Cynthia says...

      Same. A page out of my own book.
      That was an amazing short story. I was enthralled! I loved how many times my opinion and loyalties changed.

  32. Katie says...

    I really enjoyed that short story and went on to read the Q&A with the author. I found her explanation and meaning of what she wrote so true and relatable for those of us in the online dating world. “So much of dating involves this interplay of empathy and narcissism: you weave an entire narrative out of a tiny amount of information, and then, having created a compelling story about someone, you fall in love with what you’ve created.”
    I’ve found that a person’s dating profile, social media presence, and text personality can vary wildly from who they turn out to be in person. And it’s the most confusing puzzle sorting those out, let me tell you.

  33. Melissa Sakow says...

    THAT. STORY. She really hits the nail on the head of the experience of dating in NYC, kissing lots of toads, and also of the multiple power dynamics at work in sexual relationships, of the slippery edges of consent. So timely and messy. Thanks for sharing!

  34. Amor says...

    That amazing comment is so heartwarming.
    Way to go Meghan!

    • Sloan says...

      Yes! She has me in tears!

  35. I love handmade gifts too! the story at the end was so cute.

  36. Katie says...

    Yes-that teeny little note and the fact you kept it is the best thing in the world. I love that and will be thinking about it all day. What a neat thing!

  37. Loesie says...

    Pllllleeeeaaassseee write a post on the Christmas lights! Can’t wait to see pictures of it! Have the best time! XO

  38. Alex says...

    Meghan – you are clearly the best teacher ever. CoJ team – thank you for posting the links for how to help Black and progressive organizations. And now I’m going to double down on encouraging my daughter to be an artist, since maybe that’s actually a job robots can’t take.

  39. Andrea says...

    You might also consider throwing some cash this way to a woman who was featured in AL.com for tirelessly working for a quarter century to get people signed up to vote and voting in Alabama. She got an estimated 50 people to the polls this week, using an old phone and her car. She works year-round on voting in AL.

    Perman Hardy is an inspiration!

    https://www.gofundme.com/help-al-votingrights-activist

    • Elizabeth says...

      Amazing! Thanks for posting. This really should be shared widely!

  40. Rachel says...

    So sweet that little ones think birthday parties cause aging. That reminds me of my brother. At his 5th birthday he kept sneaking a candle off his cake. My mom finally realized he was the culprit and asked him why. He burst into tears saying “I’m FOUR please!!!” That must have been his reasoning.

    • Em says...

      Oh my god! My heart strings

  41. Leah says...

    Meghan, you’re my hero!

  42. Kasi says...

    Meghan’s comment is so beautiful! I think all of us who work with kids hope that our little mindful choices influence them positively. What a great reminder to keep doing what you’re doing!

  43. Sasha says...

    that is such a sweet, thought-provoking reader comment!

  44. Loved Alex’s article in the Times! Also, the birthday party study reminds me of The Sims, lol.

    briana

  45. Cara says...

    Check your NYT link!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! it’s an article alex wrote about our robots taking over jobs — and he interviewed our little ones.

  46. Gently weeping at my desk. Meghan, you are wonderful, and so is this boy.

  47. Bonnie says...

    Meghan’s comment was beautiful.

    Cat Person was a painful read. Cringe inducing probably because it felt so familiar.

  48. Meghan’s students are so blessed to have her.

  49. Katie says...

    Oh lord, that comment!! All the weeping emojis. All of them.

  50. Summer says...

    The “Cat Person” story was a very interesting read. I had all kinds of feelings about it…..Thanks for sharing! Happy Weekend.

  51. Stephanie Brawley says...

    Really love your comment from Meghan. Made me tear up. Beautiful!

  52. Ashley says...

    The study about kids and birthdays made me think of my sweet little girl this year. The night before her third birthday, while we were lying in bed, I said to her, “I can’t believe you’re turning three tomorrow!” She was quiet, and then her little voice was full of hesitation as she said, “But Mama, I don’t know how to turn.” It caught me off guard, but was so innocently sweet my heart swelled. I hadn’t realized how different things seem to kids: she was at a loss, thinking she was supposed to be doing something and she was worried about not doing it right. Everybody had been saying this to her, and here her poor little head was worried about it! I gave her hugs and kisses and told her it would be easy. Thank goodness for her amazingly sweet preschool teacher who told her that you “turn” your next age the night before by “turning over” in bed; my daughter was ecstatic when I picked her up and told me that she had “turned three” while sleeping the night before! :)

    • Carol F. says...

      How sweet is that? I have turned so many ages I am very good at it now. But I can never be three again. What a sweetheart.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, what a sweetheart!!!

  53. Meghan’s comment is so beautiful. I’m studying to be a teacher and hope that I can be a trustworthy support system for my future students in the same way that Meghan is for hers. Every child deserves to have teachers like that.

  54. I’m surprised and happy this post is up early! I do appreciate how you all listen to readers’ feedback :) I can enjoy this at work now

    • Emma says...

      Me too! Been wishing for ages that you would post it earlier in the day on Fridays. So glad to be able to enjoy this on a slow, gray Friday afternoon.

    • Aleah says...

      Same here!! :)

  55. Leah says...

    Bravo, Meghan.

  56. Ok, now I’m mildly concerned. My kids throw me birthday parties all the time. Are they trying to kill me? I must be 600 years old by their estimation!

  57. Jess. says...

    When our youngest (now 10) turned 5, we had cake with his birthday dinner, naturally. A week later we had dinner at a friend’s house. She, too, served an ice cream cake in his honor, and I remember him looking up at me with huge eyes after blowing out *those* candles and asking, “Am I six now?!”

  58. Maclean Nash says...

    Oh my word!
    The reader comment from Meghan is incredible! So sweet.

  59. E says...

    Sweetest teacher!

    I read Cat People today, and it really stuck with me. The ending of course bothered me, but the whole story felt so eerily familiar — the second-guessing and insecurities, and the feeling of doing something physical, not really being into it, but “pushing through” it and then the regret and weird shame that comes with it. Such gifted writing for making my skin crawl with recognition.

  60. Jen says...

    Thank you, Meghan, for that beautiful story. :-)

  61. Ashley says...

    Meghan’s comment – UH, straight to my heart. As an educator myself, that cuts to the bone of pure sweetness and bravely. What I know is that her students are lucky to have her.

    • Ashley says...

      bravery*

  62. Sarah Beth says...

    I can’t be the only one who immediately thought “Sarah and Percy and Bill!” when I saw those owls, right?? And it’s definitely Bill who fell off, for whatever it’s worth.

    • Diane says...

      Yes, I thought “Owl Babies,” too!

    • MaryMargaret says...

      Me too! I love that book. Owl Babies!

    • Jan says...

      Of course!