Taking Emily Freeman’s lead to share a handful of things I learned this month, from the (occasionally) significant to the (mostly) shallow.
1. The ocean is full of gold.
Long story long: earlier this month I traveled to the Oregon coast for the first time (amazing), and my hosts took me to the amazing Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, right on the coast, and we dined at their Tables of Content restaurant. (If the idea of a literary B&B appeals to you, add it to your travel list right now.)
Dinner is family style: they seat you with strangers. I was a wee bit nervous about this at first, but I needn’t have been, because you know who shows up at a restaurant called Tables of Content? Book people, and I feel right at home with book people. We sat with a librarian, a chemical oceanographer, and their daughter. Of course we wanted to hear all about the library, but hearing about the chemical oceanographer’s job was equally fascinating (and completely foreign to this liberal arts major).
We talked about how there’s trillions of dollars worth of gold in the water, and why the Pacific Ocean can be warmer in the winter than the summer on the coast, and what it’s like to go out to sea on an enormous research ship.
I had no idea.
1b. A whole lot more MMD readers live in Oregon than I ever imagined, based on your instagram and blog comments. I’ll keep this in mind as I plan future book tour and podcast stops, I promise!
2. Tidepooling is a verb.
A tide pool, I learned, is a shallow pool of water that forms along the rocky coast when the tide is in and is ready to explore when the tide goes out. When I was in Oregon, we went tidepooling—that is, hopped from rock to rock to peer at all the anemones and barnacles and starfish hanging out. If you ever get the opportunity to go, take it!
3. Exfoliation is really important.
Does everyone have a friend who you always go to when you have skin care and makeup questions? (Maybe some of you are that friend.) Recently it came up in conversation with my skincare-savvy friend that I was exfoliating so rarely that I didn’t even know where my product was, and she flipped. And probably rightly so, because once I dug it out of the back of the drawer and started using it a few times a week, my face felt better and probably looked a little bit better, too.
I feel like I’m too old to still be learning this stuff, but there it is.
(I’m using the Acure Organics brightening facial scrub, which I love, from Grove Collaborative, which I also love.)
4. Give your plants a shower.
This year I’ve developed a strange (for me) obsession with houseplants, which has me checking out all the library books and haunting all the local shops and asking all the questions, because my thumb has historically tended more brown than green.
I’m especially nervous because I’ve added a few plants that aren’t notoriously easy to care for, like the fiddle leaf above. My local plant expert told me that if my plant isn’t too big (and it’s not), to take the whole thing and put in the shower for a good rinse and soak. Not every plant thrives with this treatment, but she walked me through which of mine would benefit from it (most of them), and how often to do it (weekly-ish), and she also helped me identify the previously unknown plants I’ve had (and managed to keep alive) for years.
5. Water is more important than I realized.
And I already thought it was pretty darn essential—and not just for plants! I had my annual physical last week, and one of my top concerns is always mental health. I was surprised that one of the first things my doctor mentioned for brain health was staying hydrated. The brain is apparently a very thirsty organ, and a lack of hydration negatively impacts brain functioning.
I’m in a constant state of feeling like I ought to drink more water, but I’m rarely particularly motivated to actually do it. This is motivating.
6. New books are coming!
The wait isn’t exactly short, but I was so excited to learn that new titles are coming soon(ish) from personal favorites Kate Atkinson (Transcription, September 25), Emily St John Mandel (The Glass Hotel, 2019), Marilynne Robinson (What Are We Doing Here?: Essays), and Jojo Moyes (Still Me snuck up on me—it came out yesterday!)
What have YOU been learning lately?