Never Gift, Please.

Today I was forced to explain why I disagree so strongly with the completely ridiculous concept of using gift as a verb. This was a work-related conversation. And I was talking to someone altogether unbothered by this terrible use of an otherwise lovely word.

Let’s be clear: I am 100% totally completely over the top against using the word gift as a verb.

Is my disdain of this practice irrational? Maybe. Do I see the practice linked directly to companies and "marketers" who are attempting to sell me something so that I may "gift" it to someone else So that that person can then say "Oh thanks, I like my sweater, too. It was gifted to me." PROBABLY.

In reality, and in one million hundred years, I'll never explain it as well as it's explained HERE in The Atlantic. Do yourself a favor, 'tis the season for shopping and wrapping and gift giving. Please think twice before you (say) gift. Or get gifted. And do yourself an additional favor and read the Atlantic piece! It says that "gifting is the "moist" of the action-word world"! Could not have said it better myself, amen.

ps: Speaking of gifts, SEND THEM HERE:

Jami Curl
Boring or Exciting, Who Can Tell?

Here’s what’s happening at my house right now:

  • My son is reading a middle grade novel about magicians. The book features all kinds of tricks. He reads the book, then obsesses over reproducing the tricks. Today he asked me if it was okay to dip one of our drinking glasses into washable glue (he actually called it “removable” glue) because he needed it for his “act”.

  • With a signed contract in a file in a box in a vintage pie safe, I’m about halfway finished with BAKING GOLD! At least that’s what I’m calling it for now. It’s that baking cookbook I told you about. Thus far the only issues I’m running into involve recipes (I have 3 times the amount of recipes than the publisher is asking for) and recipe testing (I am running out of people to force cookies upon).

  • I have been working at the library I love the most. Making the move from volunteer to employee has been so fun and so exciting and also VERY GREAT. I’ve found that I connect best with readers who are children under 13 and adults over 65. I also love any project that involves helping people to do their jobs with greater efficiency and more joy.

  • I am currently reading Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones and it’s helped me to realize that the fiction I love the most always involves tales of growing up. I think this is why I love middle grade fiction so much.

  • The book that’s made me cry the most lately is The Widower’s Notebook by Jonathan Santlofer. I love memoir. Probably because the genre generally focuses on the growth and change that’s so necessary to the human experience.

Also, look at this. I can’t figure out if it’s depressing or very motivating. What do you think?

Jami Curl
What's that Smell? The Deodorant Post.

I feel the need to tell you this is because I have surprised myself so completely that I don't ever remember being as surprised by something, especially by something this weird. Is it weird? It'll be weird if this topic has never crossed your mind, sure. It won't be weird if it's something you've been thinking of trying out. I'm not talking about essential oils or crystals or tarot or spin class or the keto diet or quitting facebook or even butter coffee.

Is that weird?

I stopped wearing anti-perspirant. And all of the people I interact with on a daily basis are still standing. I have exercised, been to stressful meetings, skipped a shower or two - and guess what? I'm never any stinkier than I was when I was filling my pits with all that gunky anti-perspirant that keeps you from sweating. In fact, after two workouts and a skipped shower (in 90+ degree heat) I shoved my pits into my boyfriend's face and yelled, "smell them!" And guess what? He lived. He may have even said, "you smell better than usual."  

I don't drink. I have taken exactly two ibuprofen capsules in the last 12 months. I recently weaned myself from my daily allergy tablet opting instead for an herbal antihistamine, hoping to never take allergy drugs again. The point is, I rarely put drugs or weird substances in or on my body - with the exception of the gigantic slathering of anti-perspirant I was coating my armpits with each day. Being a weirdo, I decided to quit. 

Here's how I did it.

My anti-perspirant brand claims 48-hour protection. Given that, I realized it may take some time for all that pasty crud to work itself out of my system. For a week (See! I even gave it more than 48 hours!), I wore nothing on my pits. I shaved. I exfoliated. I washed daily with activated charcoal soap. And I waited for the stink to come or the waterfall of sweat to pour out of my pits. And guess what? It never came. Could I tell that I wasn't wearing a substance designed to keep my pits from feeling even a tiny bit damp? Yes. Was I sweating profusely and pitting out and leaving work in the middle of the day to change my shirt? No. 

Next, I bought some deodorant. I did not buy a combination deodorant + anti-perspirant, no I did not. I bought natural deodorant. Deodorant only. Deodorant sans anti-perspirant. I bought a few tubes (wait, is it called a tube? A container? Is it a stick? Okay, a stick. I bought a few sticks of deodorant (still doesn't sound right)) made with coconut oil and baking soda. And some with just coconut oil. Some with arrowroot powder and baking soda. Then a few other kinds I can't remember right now. In all, I bought seven different natural products, all designed to prevent my underarms from stinking. I did all of this without consulting the internet. I did not scare myself with armpit detox stories. I did not read about the dangers of mixing baking soda with sensitive skin. I was unaware of the claims some people make that natural deodorant "darkens" their armpits (seriously, what), I did not confuse myself with the brand loyalty of strangers or the influence of natural product influencers. I did not know so much. And that, I believe, is why I did not give up. Or chicken out. Or change my mind. I designed my own cold turkey anti-perspirant plan, and it worked. (I just mentioned chickens AND turkeys. I hope you liked it.)

I have not worn anti-perspirant in over a month. And to get even weirder on you, I feel like I know more about my body now than I did before. Not the kind of "know your body now" you know after doing something like taking one CrossFit class or giving birth to an actual human. Instead it's more like the kind of "I know my house real well because I clean it myself" kind of a feeling. (I do clean my house myself because if I had someone else clean it I'd probably not realize it was filling up with crap and have too much stuff and probably another cat or a second kitchen used for baking only. By doing the cleaning myself I am constantly getting rid of crap and clutter and dumb stuff I don't want to dust. Is this what she meant by the "life changing tidying up" business? No?) Back to not-stinking: I have not worn anti-perspirant. I have worn natural deodorant, seven different types and all of them seem okay so I don't have a favorite. In doing this, I think I know my body in ways I didn't before. (Say it: You are so weird, Jami Curl.)

Between not taking allergy medicine ever again (fingers crossed!) and proving to myself that anti-perspirant is possibly a made up thing that you can probably figure out you don't need, I feel like maybe I finally gave in to self-care. Please don't tell anyone.


Jami Curl
Hard Work Montage Issue No. 1: An Illustrated Guide to Interpersonal Communication Via the Written Word

Hi there, hello.

If you're on my mailing list, then you were probably delighted to find issue No. 1 of Hard Work Montage in your mailbox. Delighted you were, right? Right. Did you love that it took three stamps to get to you? I picked all the stamps myself right after I printed neon return address labels. And when I brought the bundle to the post office for mailing, I gave the postal workers their very own copy of issue No. 1. (Have no idea what I'm talking about? You'd better email me your mailing address soon to get issue No. 2 in the mail!) 

I love this project so much because I love working with Michelle Ott so much. She's one half of my writing/illustrating dream team and I would really do anything with her. We write letters and postcards, and we've recently started TALKING ON THE PHONE. I hate the phone, truly. Regular telephone conversating is not something I do and is certainly not something I'm good at. But Michelle suggested talking on the phone and who am I to disagree with a genius? 

Enjoy Hard Work Montage Issue No. 1: An Illustrated Guide to Interpersonal Communication Via the Written Word (and Maybe Your Voice)



Jami Curl
Baking Gold 2020

Very excellent news!

I'm going to write another book with Ten Speed Press! This time around I'm turning my focus to baking. I've been working and working to distill all of my baking experience and ideas down to the exact recipes and tips/tricks you need to make the best baked goods of your life. Sounds outrageous, doesn't it? AND IT WILL BE!

I"m formulating my list of BEST EVER GOLD recipes now. Here are a few you might see in early spring 2020 when this great job of a baking book is published:

Buttermilk Brown Sugar Blueberry Crumble Layer Cake
Marshmallow Cookie Cake
Cherry Chocolate Coconut Scones
Pretzel Toffee Chocolate Cherry Cookies
Black Tea and Lemon Butter Cookies
Cinnamon Sugar Bubble Buns
Chocolate Custard Twisty Bread

More soon! xx

Jami Curl
Another sneak peek of Hard Work Montage Issue No. 1
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It takes a tiny bit of time to write a letter and mail a letter.

Your tiny bit of time transforms into great big good feelings the moment the recipient finds the letter in her mailbox.

Just one reason you should still be writing letters.

Jami Curl
Hard Work Montage Coming Soon

I love super fun collaborative projects, and I'm lucky enough to have friends who love the same experiences. Michelle Ott is an illustrator based in California, and we've been working together on various cool projects for years (CANDY IS MAGIC BEING ONE OF THEM!) I love working with Michelle because she is extraordinarily talented and is someone who BLASTS IT even more than I do. She's always working on something, she's always getting better, she's never one to chill at low speed. We're a perfect match.

Our latest collaboration is a newsletter called HARD WORK MONTAGE. Our first issue is almost ready. It's about written correspondence and the importance of letter writing (a subject near and dear to my heart). I don't want to say much more because I'd like for you to experience HWM and the correspondence issue when it arrives. We're shooting for July 1. In the meantime, here are some sneaky peaks!


And here's something on the subject truly worth watching: watch it!

Jami Curl
Finding the Right Book

Every once in a while I am completely and totally stunned by the internet. I make it no secret that I prefer just about anything (books, art museums, real life conversations, music, long walks, grocery stores) to the internet, especially when it comes to inspiration-seeking pursuits. Still, I must give the internet some credit because really great things can be found there. (Note: I am basically your great grandma when it comes to the internet. Except I won’t call you for help when trying to figure out how to use it. I just won’t use it (or will choose to use it less.)

Thanks to the internet, I recently started listening to Just the Right Book with Roxanne Coady, and I am in love. I love this podcast more than I can explain, yet I’m still going to try to explain it because it’s worth explaining - that’s how good this show happens to be! Worth explaining even though it’s unexplainable.

First of all, Roxanne Coady is a living legend. She’s the founder of RJ Julia Booksellers in CT, and she brings every ounce of her nearly 30 years of bookselling to the podcast. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s a great storyteller - she’s the ideal host.

Second, Just the Right Book gets the most interesting authors and book people on the show! I am constantly/consistently amazed by the guests. One of my favorite episodes features Michael Pietsch, CEO of Hachette. If you're at all interested in the way publishing works, you'd better listen. 

Third, Roxanne asks the best questions. You know how everyone always talks about how they listen to Howard Stern because he’s just a great interviewer (uhhh, okay)? Well, Roxanne actually IS the best interviewer. She has the most unique way of pulling details and information out of people - it’s not confession, it’s not a therapy session, it’s just great talk about books, writing, inspiration, motivation, human beings, and more.

Fourth (I’ll stop after this point, I promise), Roxanne makes me want to read more. I didn’t think it was possible, as I am already never without a book, always reading in my spare minutes (rather than picking up my phone), always staying up way too late to squeeze in more reading time. Somehow, after listening to Roxanne talk about a book, no matter what the book is, I want to read it.

I highly recommend two author episodes because they led me to read two books I never would have considered reading without hearing about them from Roxanne.

The first is The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson.

It’s memoir. I didn’t even know I liked memoir until I read this book. Amy Dickinson is incredible. She's a gifted storyteller, and I would read ANYTHING she writes. Her interview with Roxanne is a gift. Listen and read.

Next? None other than John Grisham. I haven’t read a single word Grisham has ever written. And then I heard him on Just the Right Book and basically fell in love. What a great guy doing so much good in the world, not even including writing! He talked a lot about his writing rituals and how he manages to be so prolific. Hint: It has a lot to do with consistency. After hearing him on the podcast I immediately got a copy of Camino Island, his latest. I read it so fast and learned so much about plot advancement. Grisham excels at concision. Incredible.

And last thing about Just the Right Book. Not only is it a podcast, but it’s also a book selection service aimed at getting just the right book into your hands. The fine folks at RJ Julia ask you to answer a few questions about your reading preferences then (in my dreams this is what happens) Roxanne herself and hand picks a book according to your preferences then ships it to you.

I’m a member, and I just received my first book. Not only is it a book I’ve never read, it’s a book I’ve never even heard of that I actually want to read.


Jami Curl
Understanding the Need to Talk About It

I know I'm not alone. I can't possibly be the only parent who, when her kid starts yammering on about the intricate details of the game they're playing, either totally tunes out (or, if she's even more like me than she cares to admit,) finds herself getting frustrated or angry and wishing the talking would just stop because she really doesn't care about the 10th-level-of-hell-"Devine Beast"-fight-for-precious-gems-and-a-special-shield going on in the land of Zelda. I mean, I could care less and my kid talks ENDLESSLY about every single detail. On and on and on. I'm pretty sure I've said to him, more than once in fact, "I don't really care about this. Can you stop talking?" And that's a mild version of what's running through my head which is something more like PLEASE SHUT UP THIS IS TERRIBLE.

The thing is, it doesn't stop with stupid games. He does the same thing with A Series of Unfortunate Events. I actually care more about this than I do Zelda because Neil Patrick Harris is at least interesting, the scenic design is great, and the costumes are fantastic. But FOR REAL I don't actually care about the tiny, minute details that my kid insists upon sharing about Count Olaf and the woman who played an evil stepsister in Into the Woods. Maybe I'd care more if he took a breath every once in a while, but the talking just goes ON and ON, a mile a minute, with no signs of stopping. Please just watch the show. Go worry about Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire. Be thankful that I'm letting you watch tv as it is. Stop giving me a play by play because when you are watching television you're watching television because I clearly have some other very important thing I need to be doing or you wouldn't be watching tv in the first place! Now leave me alone.

One more thing I do not care about AT ALL, then I'll finish. 

Star Wars. Please stop. I honestly care less about this than the other two combined. I understand the major plot lines and characters from a pop culture perspective, and that should be enough. But which cape looks best on the bad guys in the scene with the laser guns kind of talk - questions about the scene on the planet with the creatures and the flying machines? Again, PLEASE STOP TALKING. 

This afternoon, in a moment of rare understanding, I was actually listening to my kid desperately try to explain to me why playing Zelda is educational and developmental (uhhhh, okay). As he was talking, I started to think about the topics that I go on and on about...And I realized that there are plenty of them.

I probably bug the living heck out of some people with my yammering about books, reading, the library, the post office, the cool pencil I found at JetPens, my plans for storage of my reference books with the less-used volumes on my office table and the most-used volumes within reach on my desk. And the funniest thing of all? The topic I realized I talk about the most? MY KID. So here I am complaining about my kid's non-stop blabbering about his special topics when there are a handful of people who probably want to say to me JUST STOP TALKING ABOUT HIM WE GET IT HE'S SPECIAL.

He's my special topic. 




Jami CurlComment