Inhalations and Exhalations (recommendations?)

This week’s “what I’m inhaling right now” includes: Patricia Lockwood, Manoush Zomorodi, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and more. Light, digestible reviews, many of them highly inconclusive, by which I mean still full of curiosity.

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The June reset button is flashing

Writing this blog began as a choice, not a thing I felt like I had to do (contrast that to revising my dissertation into the eventually-rejected book). And I know that I love writing too much to make it a stick to beat myself with. So this month, I’m resetting. Not because I feel like I should, but because I want to.

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Mother's Day, a holiday where I'm supposed to thank the world for giving a shit (it doesn't)

It was the Delta Airlines Mother’s Day card, tucked into my back pocket all this time, that made me furious. It wasn’t the fact that I’d spent my first Mother’s Day in a car with a wailing infant, then in line at airport security, and now on a plane covered in vomit - though none of that particularly helped. It was the fact that this airline was congratulating itself for printing out some pink branded postcards (which were absolutely meant to benefit moms, of course, not to mention great for the environment), while also staring awkwardly at me as I asked where I could change my baby. There was no effort to help, or even any real acknowledgment that this was an actual problem. There was a Delta Airlines Mother’s Day card, though! Call it even?

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Not today.

A mantra isn’t necessarily aspirational, because repeating “I am strong” or whatever when you are actually scared doesn’t really help. It needs to be something that cuts right to the truth and gives you something to grasp, something concrete and specific, something evocative and relatable. It’s fun and it’s challenging and, like this blog, I find myself filling up with new things to say and new ways to frame them. Today’s mantra is Arya Stark’s mantra (sans spoilers!), but it’s definitely for you even if you’re neither a trained assassin with a hit list nor even a casual Game-of-Thrones watcher.

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Don't wait for it.

There are pictures of me, my brother, and my two cousins, as high school kids, where you can easily tell which of these things is not like the other. We were pretty close to each other growing up, and I burned with shame when we were all together with our parents in the room and the talk turned to sports. Specifically, their achievements, which were honestly impressive as hell. Whatever gene was involved in producing all this athletic talent must have missed me. I played on teams that didn’t cut anyone, and only because it was not optional. Every sports practice I attended in high school filled me with anxiety, so strong was my sense that I did not belong there. No one in my family was ever anything but kind to me about my figurative participation trophies, but I always assumed they thought less of me, or worse, pitied me. Was I wrong to hope that running a marathon might impress them?

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The sex on Hulu's Shrill isn't just good, it's life-affirming.

Today, I feel optimistic about the future, and that’s because of the sex Aidy Bryant is having on TV.

Sex on TV has changed a lot in my lifetime alone. For one thing, we are regularly seeing male frontal nudity on HBO - thank you, High Maintenance! Even more importantly, Issa Rae’s Insecure celebrates the sexiness of black women through its (frequent, hot) sex scenes without any kind of white mediation or approval. I didn’t even realize until I found myself in the thrall of that show how rarely - if ever - I had seen black people having sex onscreen, especially emotionally satisfying sex. And now, thanks to Hulu’s Shrill, we get to see a fat woman have good and fulfilling sex onscreen, and no matter what you think of the rest of the show, that all by itself is a really big deal.

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A farewell to Crashing

Pete has wanted to belong here ever since we first met him. One of the central questions the show has confronted is precisely that of belonging. What is comedy now, and who belongs in it? What do we owe guys like Pete, who might be very talented but who might also, in truth, not be talented enough to be essential? In the words of Estee Adoram (playing herself), the holder of the Comedy Cellar keys: “who are you, why are you, and why now? I’ve got a lot of white guys up here talking about nothing.” She has a point, and even though Pete is understandably crushed, Crashing isn’t asking us to feel that he’s been denied some kind of rightful place.

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To me, you are the CITGO sign

It’s easy to miss the things that only get big when you’re right up close to them. If you need a reminder of how big and bright you really are, then listen to today’s episode of today’s Morning Mantra podcast by Coach MK, featuring me, you and the CITGO sign. You do a lot of things that no one else notices (call it an educated guess). You don’t want to make a big deal out of all the things you do or make them hugely visible from far away, because you don’t want to come across as self-congratulatory, self-indulgent, or any of those other terms that begin with “self-“ that we use in judgment of others. But sometimes you think to yourself, does anyone see this work I do? Will anyone care? Does it still matter if I am the only one who really knows what went into it?

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