issue #106 - the nostalgic one
Have you gotten sucked into Alabama Rush TikTok?
I have. I’m here for ‘fit checks, door chants, the specific rush days. I’m especially here for the commentary from those who are more invested than I am.
It reminds me of my short-lived Greek life (ADPi for two memorable quarters at University of Washington). While living in a sorority wasn’t for me, I’m still friends with women from my pledge class and have a lot of fond memories of that chapter. And watching RushTok flooded me with memories of rushing and pledge life.
Melody and I reminisced about our rush experience and sent each other TikToks into the early hours of Friday morning. Carol caught me up on how the house has transformed since we called it home.
And all the things - the platform Steve Maddens, the lace-trimmed tank tops, chemistry study sessions over pizza at DU, jungle juice, dancing every Thursday night away - have been flooding my memories.
Digital cameras didn’t become the norm until my senior year of college, so these memories are just that - memories. I have no clue where the printed pictures of freshman year are, but the excitement of finding dresses at Buffalo Exchange, doing each others’ makeup, walking through campus from our dorm to Greek row is palpable and fresh.
That said, I’m glad to have enjoyed part of my college days without the glare of social media. But watching RushTok shows that for as many things have changed, some are the same. Young women are still sharing clothes and accessories, helping each other get ready, and gathering in the ways we used to.
It’s important to acknowledge that there are a lot of issues (race, class, culture) with the Greek system at large. This article does a solid job of highlighting them, but is also hopeful that the students can lead the school into a more inclusive era, if they choose.
If you’re new to RushTok and want to dive in, I’d start here, then here, and then the TikTok algo will take it from there. If you want more, check out Kate Kennedy’s excellent deep dive on rush. Enjoy.
(And I recommend playing this playlist in the background).
What we read this week
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett - I just finished The Vanishing Half, the story of two light-skinned black identical twin girls from a small Louisiana town—one sister passes into whiteness, while the other marries a dark-skinned black man, and ends up returning to their hometown as an adult. This is a well-written meditation on race and caste, and is a great fiction pairing with the nonfiction work, Caste, as it brings to life the social and political structures that Isabel Wilkerson describes.
Life Your Life: My Story of Loving and Losing Nick Cordero by Amanda Kloots - like so many people, I was tuning into Amanda’s Instagram stories every day for updates on her husband’s battle with COVID. I cheered on his improvements, mourned his setbacks and ultimate loss. Amanda opens up a LOT in this book. It was brave, but it also showed what privilege and fame will get you when a loved one suffers from COVID. I found myself having to check my own feelings about Nick’s prognosis several times during the book (the downside of hindsight and some medical knowledge). If you read this (and it was incredibly honest and open - a rarity for many memoirs), I encourage you to remember that you’re reading this with a deeper knowledge of COVID and with knowledge of the ending, and to try to put yourself in Amanda’s position at that moment.
The Top 5
Enhancing Accessibility In U.S. Elections (Center For American Progress)
The Catch Up
I’m a single mom who voted for Trump. I’m asking Congress to invest in families.(Des Moines Register)
Disabled Immigrants: Living On The Edge Of Barbwire (Disability Visibility Project)
Introducing the August/September Issue of Condé Nast Traveller Middle East (Condé Nast Traveller ME)
The ‘what about Black people’ defense of Republican vaccine hesitancy (Washington Post)
Europe Has Its Own Vaccine Mandate Woes (The Dispatch)
The Residential School System (Indigenous Foundations)
Death By Civilization (The Atlantic)
Things we love this week
My fabulous friend, Avery Anapol, introduced me to this fantastic newsletter. The tagline pretty much sums it up for me—“academic rigor, journalistic flair.” If you’re a research/data nerd like me, but also appreciate your numbers served up with some great storytelling, this is the newsletter for you.
I have been sleeping on Aerie. I came for a polo neck sweatshirt (influenced by Mary), and I left with…a lot of things. This is a great nap dress dupe, this bra and shorts set was irresistible, and I guess I needed flared yoga pants? If you want some new cozy basics, I highly highly recommend.
After Showmance ended (come baaaaack RomCom Pods), I’ve been on the hunt for a new fiction podcast and found Motherhacker, which is SO good. A mother becomes an unwitting hacker after being hacked herself, and the result….well, you’ll just have to listen.
I got a few product recommendations requests in this week’s Q&A, so thought I would share them here:
a cashmere dress for under $100
comfortable and stylish work flats (from a sustainable, ethical company I love)
adhesive light-blocking blinds if you’ve just moved into a new home (or traveling with kids!)
these our favorite triple-layer masks to wear under a cloth mask. Our kids wear them under these cloth masks, and I wear mine under my Night silk masks (stock up on them while they’re still available - 50% off right now!)
Take care of yourself, and please share #5SmartReads if you’re enjoying them!