Maybe I secretly aspire to be more like pretend vampires who always have something inane to do. My nemesis, then and now, is the unaccounted-for expanse of time. In the first four months of the pandemic, I had to learn how to kill time with a four-year-old, gobs and gobs of time demanding to pass. It became my one job, and I therefore wanted nothing to do with it when I was supposedly off duty. For years I hadn’t gone for a run with music and headphones, but that ended in July when I started plugging first the Hamilton soundtrack and then entire back catalogues of podcasts into my ears every time I went out. I opened my arms to distraction and welcomed it in. I did not write a single word for months that wasn’t work-related. I quietly gave up every social media account I had at one time monitored daily. No blank spaces to fill, please, and no fields asking the question “what’s on your mind?” I have nothing to give you.Read more
With Obama in the White House, I felt like I was doing the work just by loving him and his presidency. I enjoyed my good thoughts and well wishes; I drank the potent draught of feeling like a good person. I felt like things were on track, that progress was both possible and happening, and that as long as I voted for Obama’s agenda and wished everyone well, all would be well. The election of Trump ended that fantasy, and violently. Since 2016 I think about being white all the time. That’s actually good.Read more
Yesterday, I had my first wonderful Mother’s Day since the 90s. I would like to be exaggerating or generalizing, but I am quite sure that that’s entirely accurate. If you read what I wrote about Mother’s Day last year, you might (might!) pick up on my generalized aggrievedness around this holiday. I wasn’t subtle about it.Read more
I think we will look back at the things we did during this time and appreciate the uncanny of everything much more than we are even able to right now, as deeply immersed in it as we are. We will wonder how we did this every day. I will certainly wonder how on earth I got Ros to agree to wear a mask, even a mask made of a cute dress. How I got her to do anything, for that matter, with nothing but time for us to marinate in our power struggles.Read more
We are firmly in the realm of Disney princesses now. We threw up our hands, logged into Disney Plus, and let ‘er rip. This is what steering into the skid looks like. Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora, Jasmine, Belle, Rapunzel and Ariel are no longer the controlled substances they once were. Before April 2020, they were like famous people we spoke about but didn’t actually interact with. People gave Ros gifts bearing their likenesses: an egregiously bubble-gum-pink Disney princess beach towel, a dainty little Disney Princess jigsaw puzzle, all featuring the ladies in their most iconic floor-length gowns wearing pretty smiles and perfect up-dos. I tried unsuccessfully to repress my eye-roll when Ros disappeared into the Disney section of the public library (remember the library?) and produced the treacly, gag-inducing Little Golden Book I Am A Princess, in which each of the aforementioned princesses introduces herself and provides the most basic and banal details of her character (Belle loves books! Aurora loves dancing with Philip!). And of course they show up exactly like celebrity cameos in Netflix’s insufferable Sofia The First, a mostly-harmless show which even Ros has openly declared she has had quite enough of for a lifetime.Read more
This is the would-be Amazon review of a potty-training guide: one star. Why even start your own blog if not to defy the arbitrary word limits of online reviews? I don’t just want to give an opinion, I want to reflect. Hannah Gadsby jokes (or rather, pointedly doesn’t joke) that lesbians give her “feedback” and men give her “opinions” in response to her material. White women with blogs, I think, give reflections. Hannah, if you’re reading this, that one’s all yours.
Gadsby’s Nanette is a Netflix comedy special that literally and explicitly transcends comedy in order to tell a story that needs seriousness to be told properly. It starts with Gadsby’s hilarious jokes about her comedy and her identity. Once, someone offered her the “feedback” (her community, she notes, is big on “feedback”) that her comedy lacked sufficient “lesbian content.” Once the audience is in the palm of her hand, she looks right at them and tells them that she’s done with comedy, because making self-deprecating jokes that make her smaller has been getting in the way of telling her story, and it’s time to stop doing that, now.
Sorry, I lied when I said this was a potty-training book review. This reflection is not about potty training; it’s never really about the potty training.Read more
One thing our culture has in abundance right now is a yearning for Mister Rogers, as evidenced by the release of two major films about him in the last two years alone. Around the time the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic began in earnest, I had recently begun listening to another such homage, a podcast called Finding Fred in which (favorite writer) Carvell Wallace explores the legacy of Fred Rogers as a true radical in his willingness to accept literally every person just as they were. “You make each day a special day, and you know how: by just your being you,” Mister Rogers says to the camera at the conclusion of each episode. “There’s only one person in the whole world like you, and people can like you just the way you are.”Read more
“Go ahead and love something an embarrassing amount” was the name of the series I began in 2018, wherein I would take something small - a single episode of TV, a single MOMENT in a single episode of TV, a 3-minute scene that no one remembers from a classic movie, a particular verb tense in a memoir - and I would write it nearly to death, singing its praises beyond what could be called reason. Writing this series, I felt like me. Not the hopeful postdoctoral fellow trying to look serious enough for the academic powers that be, not someone who was trying to find the right answer. Just me, unrestrained in my love and enthusiasm. In many contexts, I feel like I’m a bit much. Here, I was just right.Read more
At the moment, I feel like I have hope to spare. I am one of the luckiest ones - no one in my immediate family needs to leave the house for work, so we are all here and somewhat cheerfully existing in one another’s midst. My husband will soon have more work than he’s ever had in dealing with likely the largest wave of corporate bankruptcies in our lifetime, so while we wait for that to wash over us, we’re just here passing the time with Legos, books, movies, and markers. There is fear, there is cabin fever, there are tantrums and there are declarations that I am the meanest mommy. But in the spirit of my Instagram feed, here are seven things that have allowed me to access joy even in the face of boredom, uncertainty, confinement and yes, sometimes terror.Read more
I’m going to try and follow the lead of all my favorite writers these days (subscribe to newsletters from Heather Havrilesky and Emily VanDerWerff and Captain Awkward and Danny Lavery if you haven’t already!) and update this blog more often to give people a chance to comment and say hi and how they are doing. I am reading and thinking a lot about books and I am sure many of you are, too. This period of actual global pandemic - a crisis that a record-breaking 99.9% of people being polled are aware of - is pulling me in the direction of some of my classic favorites, not least of which The Decameron, whose overarching plot follows ten young men and women fleeing Florence in the time of the Black Plague and giving each other comfort and solace and, some might say, an education, through storytelling.Read more