My Stuff

As a long time reader of Vanity Fair, the first thing I turn to is a section called “My Stuff,” where famous people tell you what they use daily….. everything from sheets to watches to toothpaste. It’s amazing to me how many people make millions in different industries, and yet still love Crest.

(Well, now it’s the first thing I turn to……….. Dominic Dunne and Christopher Hitchens are dead…………….)

I’ve never done such a writing exercise, so I thought it would be fun to do my own. I’ll divide everything up into categories for easy reading. If you have something better that I absolutely must try, leave it in the comments.

Health & Beauty

  • I have a huge morning allergy regimen, because inside or outside, I’ll find something that makes me sneeze.
    • Pills- Zyrtec (getting Allegra next week) and Sudafed (NOT PE)
    • Sprays- Fluticasone and Sinex
    • Eye drops- Bausch + Lomb Alaway
  • Soaps
    • Bioré Charcoal (face wash)
    • Suave Professionals Shampoo and Conditioner in Almond + Shea Butter
    • Axe Body Wash- Fresco in the summer (sage and mandarin), Dark Temptations in the winter (chocolate and vanilla)
    • Nivea for Men shaving cream
    • Neutrogena Make-up Removing Wipes (a must-have with a tubing mascara)
  • Fragrances
    • Winter
      • Axe Dark Temptations body spray
      • Axe Dark Temptations deodorant
    • Summer
      • JASON Tea Tree Deodorant Stick
      • Liz Claiborne for Men
  • Hair Products
    • Garnier Leave-in Conditioner
    • Viking Revolution pomade or Gorilla Snot (moco de gorila) Gel
    • Aussie Sprunch Spray
  • Makeup
    • Mascara and eyeliner in “Brynn” (a deep black) by Thrive Causemetics
    • Lipstick by Burt’s Bees in Plum
      • A quick note about makeup- this is all I own. Jeremy Renner was a makeup artist before he started acting and he says you only need to frame your face. I’m going to go with Hawkeye on this one….. foundation on a hot DC summer day is for dummies)
  • Dental Care
    • Colgate Essentials with Charcoal- toothpaste
    • Crest ProHealth Advanced Enamel Care- mouthwash
  • Sleep
    • 10mg melatonin
    • Weighted blanket (basically a human ThunderShirt)

Devices

  • AMD Desktop running Windows 10 with 32-in HDTV as monitor. Bluetooth remote control for Kodi Media Center.
  • Original Kindle 7-in (useful for reading long periods at a clip)
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • Apple Watch
  • Logitech K480 Bluetooth Keyboard
    • I cannot recommend this product highly enough. It’s relatively full-size and comfortable, yet will fit in a messenger bag/medium to large purse. Plus, it has a switch on it so you can connect three different devices- I have my iPad, my iPhone, and my desktop hooked to it now.
  • Android tablet connected to a Bluetooth alarm clock- makes an AWESOME stereo
  • AMD laptop running Ubuntu 20.04 “Focal Fossa” and Cinnamon as the window manager
  • MPOW H7 Bluetooth headphones (80’s “can” style)
  • Sandisk Fuse+ MP3 Player running Rockbox
    • I listen to so much music/so many podcasts that having one of these saves hours of phone battery.

Applications

  • Mobile
    • Carrot Weather
    • Clue (period/ovulation tracker)
    • Just Press Record
    • Amazon Prime Music Unlimited
    • Spotify
    • Pocket Casts
    • LastPass
    • ProtonMail
    • Reddit
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • WordPress
    • Google Chrome
    • Washington Post & Post Select (Select has an Apple Watch app)
    • NY Times
    • Goodreads
    • Uber
    • Blood Donor (Red Cross)
    • Ambience
    • NordVPN
    • Mega
  • Desktop
    • Operating System Agnostic
      • NordVPN
      • Kodi
      • LibreOffice
      • Mozilla Firefox
      • Mozilla Thunderbird
      • GNU Image Manipulation Program/Glimpse
      • Google Chrome
      • Vivaldi Browser
      • VLC Media Player
    • Windows
      • Amazon Music Unlimited
      • Spotify
      • Netflix
      • Microsoft OneNote
      • Picasa 3
      • MusicBee
      • White Noise
      • iTunes
    • Linux
      • Nuvola (streams music and videos from all sources on Linux)
      • Variety (wallpaper changer)
      • Conky Manager (adds widgets to the desktop for looking at processes and internet speed)
      • ANoise (short for Ambient Noise- has everything from forests to beaches to oscillating fans)
      • LollyPop (music manager)

Podcasts

  • The Moth
  • Modern Love
  • Risk!
  • Unlocking Us
  • The Confessional with Nadia Bolz-Weber
  • On Being with Krista Tippett (I generally download the unedited version)
  • The Robcast
  • Pod Save America
  • The Rachel Maddow Show
  • The Daily Show: Ears Edition
  • Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend
  • SpyCast
  • Death, Sex, & Money
  • Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4
  • The Infinite Monkey Cage
  • Wild Goose
  • and, like, a hundred more but these are the ones I anticipate

Books I Read Often

  • Dynamics of Faith, Paul Tillich
  • The Solace of Leaving Early and A Girl Named Zippy, Haven Kimmel
  • All of William Barclay’s books on the Gospels
  • Hatchet, Gary Paulsen
  • The Giver, Lois Lowry
  • One L, Scott Turow (pretty sure this was in my bathroom for three years in college)

Clothing Brands

  • Nautica
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Ralph Lauren
  • American Giant
  • Dockers
  • Levis
  • Dickies

My Bags

  • XINCADA Men’s Messenger Bag, L
    • Not a messenger bag in the classic sense. Looks way more like a travel purse, especially since the canvas is advertised as “Blue/Black,” but is actually purple. The only reason I went with the large is that I needed it to fit my 10-in tablet and keyboard. If you have a seven or eight inch tablet and a foldable keyboard, the small is perfect. I was amazed at the quality of the bag for the price. It will last me years on end.
  • Swiss Army Backpack
    • Perfect for my 15-in laptop and all its accessories while traveling. Not my daily driver because it’s too heavy….. I call it “Leviathan” (Veep joke)

So that’s my stuff. I’m not going to include movies and TV because those things change frequently. If there’s something I haven’t covered that you want to know, just ask. I’m not energetic enough to be cagey.

Donate! Donate!

Thanks to all you wonderful people, Stories is allowed to continue for another year without annoying ads. You can keep reading me at work, in those moments when there’s nothing but cleaning products in the bathroom. I paid the fee up front, and have now been reimbursed…. and let me tell you, it saved my ass.

I thought it was a good idea to get my groceries delivered because I don’t have a car. I usually take public transportation to the store, and Uber back so that I at least have access to a trunk. FreshDirect offered me $50 off a purchase of $100 or more. The coupon code did not go through, and I was charged the full amount plus delivery fee. I canceled the order, but there’s still a hold on my funds. They told me it would take 24-48 hours for the hold to be released, and if that doesn’t work, I need an extensive set of documents… and, of course, the vendor says it’s the bank’s fault and the bank says it’s the vendor’s fault. I have been around and around with them on the phone. PayPal was able to transfer funds within two minutes.

I am so glad I have a bit of breathing room, because I went into full-on panic mode. I can’t say I won’t use FreshDirect again, but I can say that we are not off to a good start. This is because they’re the only ones that deliver in my area. It’s probably for the best. I’m not sure I have enough room to store $100 worth of groceries, anyway, but the smallest amount they’ll deliver is $30, and only $7.00 delivery fee…. Less than an Uber, for sure. Perfect when I am out of coffee and creamer…. maybe a box of cereal.

It seems to be feast or famine around here. I got a call back on a position at University of Maryland, and a full-time cook’s job at Denizen’s Brewing Company. They have a brewpub, and they asked whether I’d prefer front of house or back of house. I told them to put me where they needed me. Servers make more money, but cooks don’t have to deal with the public. Pluses in all directions. Besides, my cost of living here is so incredibly low that I don’t need a fancy pants job. You’d think that DC would be so much more expensive, but the room I rent is all bills paid and I don’t have monthly bills like car payments and insurance. It’s just too much when you add in maintenance and parking fees. Plus, one of the reasons I wanted to move to DC so badly is that I have monocular vision, which means that driving is harder for me than most people. With the exception of running into a guardrail because a 25 mph curve was not marked, I haven’t had an accident in years… mostly due to my complete dependence on Waze… although that has bitten me in the ass, as well, because I was lost and trying to find where I was going and got caught on a red light camera while looking at my phone- in the middle of my windshield so I couldn’t exactly see the light. For the most part, as long as I drive slowly, I’m fine. For this very reason, I am in love with cruise control. I try as hard as I can not to be a stereotypical woman driver. Now, I’m pretty good at it. When I was younger, not so much.

I prefer to drive SUVs because I sit a little higher and have more visibility, but unless I was able to afford a hybrid, that’s just not happening. And, of course, as a Texan I love pickup trucks as well. Same idea with the sitting a little higher, much better on gas mileage…. and I hear that the price of gas is going up. The plus is also not having a back seat (people in groups are a “no thanks”). It’s nice to have someone in the passenger seat with stereo vision. Four or five people are just too much of a distraction…. plus, they don’t tend to like how slow I drive, a #biteme situation. Plus, it’s DC. During the day, the traffic is awful. During the night, construction blocks everything. I’ve been caught in traffic jams at both 1100 AND 2300. You just can’t win. Plus, in most areas of Washington proper, the speed limit is only 25mph to begin with. It helps because it keeps you from hitting tourists too hard with your car, as much as you might want to. Did I say that out loud?

I am also dedicated to not talking on the phone in the car on most days, because even with Bluetooth, it’s just distracting enough. Podcasts are my favorite, because music doesn’t keep my brain as engaged. Here’s my list:

  • ID10T (formerly The Nerdist)
  • WTF with Marc Maron
  • Risk!
  • Two Dope Queens
  • Fresh Air
  • On Being, with Krista Tippett
  • You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes
  • House for All Sinners and Saints
  • Radiolab
  • This American Life
  • Reveal
  • Criminal
  • Invisibilia
  • Wait, Wait…. Don’t Tell Me
  • Car Talk
  • The Robcast
  • Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
  • Hidden Brain
  • The TED Radio Hour
  • The Moth
  • Casefile True Crime
  • Reply All
  • Ask Me Another
  • Snap Judgment
  • Pop Culture Happy Hour
  • Modern Love
  • Meet the Press
  • The Tim Ferris Show

There’s no way that I can listen to them all every week, so I generally download a few at a time over wi-fi so that a) I’m not using my data plan and 2) most of the Metro is underground and the sound doesn’t cut out when I’m in a no service zone. If I had to pick a true favorite, it’s a toss-up between The Moth and Modern Love. I will download those the moment they come out. Third is probably The Robcast, because Rob Bell always has incredible discussions on progressive Christian theology. The four part series with Pete Rollins absolutely blew my mind. One of the most interesting things he said was that theism and atheism are one of life’s great love stories, because in theism/atheism, the truth lives somewhere in the slash. I think I’ve listened to that series four times now. I should edit it so that all four parts are one file.

And now, a finely crafted theological joke, which means I didn’t write it. Attribution is unknown:

Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, and James Cone find themselves all at the same time at Caesarea Philippi. Who should come along but Jesus, and he asks the four famous theologians the same Christological question, “Who do you say that I am?”

Karl Barth stands up and says: “You are the totaliter aliter, the vestigious trinitatum who speaks to us in the modality of Christo-monism.”

Not prepared for Barth’s brevity, Paul Tillich stumbles out: “You are he who heals our ambiguities and overcomes the split of angst and existential estrangement; you are he who speaks of the theonomous viewpoint of the analogia entis, the analogy of our being and the ground of all possibilities.”

Reinhold Niebuhr gives a cough for effect and says, in one breath: “You are the impossible possibility who brings to us, your children of light and children of darkness, the overwhelming oughtness in the midst of our fraught condition of estrangement and brokenness in the contiguity and existential anxieties of our ontological relationships.”

Finally James Cone gets up, and raises his voice: “You are my Oppressed One, my soul’s shalom, the One who was, who is, and who shall be, who has never left us alone in the struggle, the event of liberation in the lives of the oppressed struggling for freedom, and whose blackness is both literal and symbolic.”

And Jesus turns around and says, “What?”

There is nothing greater than studying theology and being able to laugh at yourself. In my own life, I rely on both Henri Nouwen and Paul Tillich. The Wounded Healer and Dynamics of Faith are my go-to in pretty much any situation. Although I will never forget hearing Marcus Borg preach at Trinity Cathedral in Portland, Oregon. Before he got up to speak, Bill Lupfer, the dean, said that any time you had a theological question, you should go and drink beer with a Lutheran. This is especially funny because the first time I ever met Dean Lupfer, we were in a pub.

Speaking of which, if I decide to start cooking again, it’s time to buy a set of bandanas. I am sure Amazon will deliver without incident.