This week: A reflection on something personal and reflective. Like how reading gives me hope in the bleakness
As the pandemic rages on, and our government tilts into full-out fascism, my expectations have lowered. Right now, waking up in the morning feeling healthy, and getting through another week not getting sick, feel like accomplishments. Walking, doing Zoom pilates, working and caring for people I love are all experiences I appreciate, when our world is so challenged--and challenging.
Reading is an activity that continues to give me joy. Not the pandemic and political reports I doomscroll way too often, but the novels and non-fiction I have always loved to read, need to read.
Recent reads providing hope and inspiration include these:
Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks, This is a novel about the Black Plague coming to a small, rural village in England, written from the point of view of a young working-class woman in 1666. It’s marvelous, and I learned a lot from the perspective of the heroine, Anna Frith, that I relate to stressors and fears we have today. It is a tale of hope, as Oprah said when it was published in 2001, and a great read for right now. Brooks is also such a talented writer that I am going to seek out more of her other novels in my digital library queue.
How Long ‘til Black Future Month?by N.K. Jemisin, This is a marvelous collection of short stories by the acclaimed author of The Broken Earth Trilogy. So many of them are great, thoughtful, provoking. I’ve also become an avid reader of Brooklyn-based Jemisin’s Twitter feed.
Open Book by Jessica Simpson. I have a giant taste for pop culture, so checking out Simpson’s autobiography was irresistible. Written with a ghostwriter, Kevin Carr O’Leary, this feels like a very authentic voice and an inspiring account of struggling to find herself after being a Daddy-pleaser.
Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid. We read this first novel in my beloved Zoom book club, and it is everything you might want a beach read to be in summer 2020: entertaining, and yet so much more than that. It’s a brilliant first novel about a young black woman, Emira Tucker, making her way in the world through layers of class, race, and coming of age you will recognize as very much of this moment, and it is you don’t want to put it down level of good.
Something to read and listen to: Jericho Brown, Say Thank You, Say I’m Sorry
I don’t know whose side you’re on,
But I am here for the people
Who work in grocery stores that glow in the morning
And close down for deep cleaning at night
Right up the street and in cities I mispronounce,
In towns too tiny for my big black
Car to quit, and in every wide corner
Of Kansas where going to school means
At least one field trip
To a slaughterhouse. I want so little: another leather bound
Book, a gimlet with a lavender gin, bread
So good when I taste it I can tell you
How it’s made. I’d like us to rethink
What it is to be a nation. I’m in a mood about America
BONUS: Alfre Woodward reciting Brown’s poem right here:
COVID-19 Reads and info. Yep, it’s still here, and still burning through our country, with a Federal government not really addressing core issues, and too many individuals who don’t think it could happen to them and theirs, even as front-line workers, so many of them Black and brown, are putting themselves at risk. Here’s what resonated for me this week you might not have seen:
The Greater Good Science Center, How to form a pandemic pod, by Jeremy Adam Smith. This wonderfully useful and thoughtful essay by my friend Jeremy brings together good advice and research about what it means to be in a pod (or bubble), the agreements you could make, and questions to ask. With an approach reflecting knowledge of poly and safe sex community agreements, Smith suggests that adults forming a pod ask questions including:
When were you last tested for COVID-19? Has anyone close to you been tested?
What were the results?
What are your safety practices? For example, in what circumstances do you wear a mask? Do you enter places that don’t require masks? How often do you interact with unmasked people indoors, or at least six feet apart outdoors? What are your hand-washing habits? What do you do when possibly exposed to COVID-19?
XKCD, COVID risk chart, by Randell Munroe, I am enough of a nerd that I actually paid to see Randall Munroe speak in San Francisco some years ago, so this chart of COVID-19 behaviors risk totally thrilled me, and I wanted to pass it along.
adrienne maree brown, unthinkable thoughts: call out culture in the age of covid-19. This exquisite, true, and haunting essay speaks so much truth to me about where our world is today in both its toxicity and its beauty. What needs to die to be reborn? Where do you center yourself and your actions in that? Read for free, or become a member and support adrienne maree (I did.)
You made it this far, so here is one more thing, some images from my art crush, Felicia Chiao. The whimsy and the loneliness of these images speak to me right now, as we all stay home as much as possible and yet try to connect.
Hey—Thanks for reading #9. #10 hits next Sunday. 10 issues, WTF? Subscribe if you like it. And tell your friends. I’d love more readers.