I’m afraid I don’t have an essay for you this week. I’ve tried three different topics, but nothing is coming. But it’s noon on Wednesday, and by God, I’ll give you a newsletter, so here we go.

It’s difficult to learn how to say “no” to things. Doubly so when you’re a woman. It’s even worse when you’re also a people-pleaser and a perfectionist to boot. “No” has never really been a part of my lexicon.

I know it’s something I need to get better at. According to the number of results you get on Google when searching “learn to say no,” it’s something most of us need to work on. Going by the wisdom of these articles, all we need to do to reduce stress and avoid burnout is start saying no to things we don’t want to do, and voila, you’ll be a better person for it.

I’m skeptical, admittedly, that the assertiveness shown by saying “no” will instantly work for women or minorities, who are usually seen as being “angry” or “not a team player” for establishing boundaries. But there may be a kernel of truth in this wisdom nonetheless. What if we just didn’t do the things we didn’t want to do? Obviously some things (like cleaning the bathroom) are unavoidable. The things that are avoidable, though… We may just be happier if we said no to going to the party, taking on another project, or hosting Thanksgiving for the entire family.

To that end, I’m saying “no” to writing a full essay this week. I am going through a lot of emotional turmoil at the moment, and I haven’t had the time nor the energy to devote to a fully researched and thought-out newsletter. I’ll be back next week with something more coherent, but until then, let’s get our Noise du Jour on.


Noise du Jour

(Looking for a previous Noise du Jour feature? Check out the playlist on YouTube and Spotify.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the 1959 short film “Signal 30” this week. A relic of the era when real car accidents (complete with real dead drivers) were used to scare teenagers into driving safely, “Signal 30” has always had a weird place in my psyche because, according to my mother, one of the drivers “featured” in the film had gone to her family’s church. Though I never took driver’s ed, I watched the film out of morbid curiosity some years ago and continue to be fascinated and horrified by it.

Enter Public Service Broadcasting, a fantastic band out of London, England that combines great instrumental tracks with sound clips from various historical sources. They have a knack for creating songs that have a narrative quality to them, and their song “Signal 30” is no different. Using clips from that film as well as other sources, PSB captures both the sort of out-of-control driving that the film warns against as well as the hysterical tone of future shocking driver’s ed movies such as “Highways of Agony” and “Red Asphalt.” It’s one of their best, and I highly recommend checking out their other work if you like what you hear.


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