Issue 2: Social Isolation

Hi! I’m Brittanie Shey, and this is Eat Your Makeup, a newsletter of weird and wonderful recommendations. I’m glad you’re here!

I learned how to knit as a young teenager. In my mid-20s I got married and became a trailing wife, following my husband and his job to rural South Korea for three years. Unable to work and socially isolated, I spent a large part of my free time hanging out on web forums like Craftster and and working on fiber projects while watching bad imported American reality TV (America’s Next Top Model was a fave). For whatever reason, I stopped knitting around 2009 — we’d moved back home, I took on other projects, I got a full-time job as an editor at an alt-weekly.

Then, sometime last fall, I started to get this full-body urge to pick up my knitting needles again. Almost like a craving. I finally gave into that urge in October, and since then I’ve been knitting almost every day. I understand now why my body craved it — it is repetitive, meditative, a great way to self-soothe. I can do it while watching a movie, or listening to a podcast — though lately I’ve been binge-watching 90-Day Fiancé (don’t judge). More than anything, it keeps me off the internet, and as a bonus, it feels gratifying to have an actual object to represent the fruits of my labor in the end.

In Houston, we are not at the point yet where people are being asked to avoid social gatherings, but if and when that point comes, I at least know I have plenty to keep me busy at home. And it helps that I have something to also help keep my anxiety at bay. Beats the hell out of drinking.

Here are the things I’ve been loving lately.

Oscar Shorts 🎞
If you need a quick pick-me-up, might I suggest the Oscar-nominated animated shorts from this past year? I especially loved Kitbull, and Hair Love took home the prize. Below is Purl, in keeping with the theme of this week’s newsletter.

Post-Apocalyptic Lit 📚
I went to a book club last night where we discussed Ling Ma’s debut novel Severance. I actually read it last summer and loved it. Let me stress that this is a work of fiction, but it feels incredibly timely. I read it as a scathing criticism of capitalism, and the ways we find self-soothing in routines and repetition. If you find solace in literature during difficult times, I’d definitely recommend adding it to your reading list. If you’ve already read it, lemme know what you thought!

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The Boomtown Podcast 🛢
I’ve been riveted by the Boomtown podcast, an 11-part series from Texas Monthly about the explosion of oil production in the Permian Basin, a large swath of West Texas where there’s not much more than desert and mountains. West Texas is achingly beautiful and desolate, and the podcast delves into the region’s explosion of growth thanks to oil camps, addressing everything from the history of America’s oil industry to sex work to a barber who reportedly makes six digits serving roughnecks in the field. It is absolutely fascinating.

Rat giggles 🐀
Did you know there is an entire body of research on “rat tickling” and that rats “giggle” when they’re tickled? They love to be tickled! They even seek out tickling as a reward for behavioral training in laboratory settings. Bottom line, rats are super cool — add them to raccoons and possums in the pantheon of misunderstood trash animals.

Kimchi Comfort Food🐓
It is well-establish that I am a big fan of pickles and fermented foods. This recipe for kimchi chicken fried rice popped into my feed sometime last fall and I’ve been making it roughly once a week ever since. It’s the perfect way to use up leftovers (leftover rice, whatever veggies I have in the fridge, the last couple of eggs), is endlessly customizable, and tastes like true comfort food without being full of junk. Cooking the kimchi takes a bit of the edge off, so lately I’ve been topping it with rice wine vinegar and this Houston-made kimchi salsa. (If you are in Texas, you can buy Banyan Foods kimchi and kimchi salsa at H-E-B.)

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